The role of the nurse in active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide

J Adv Nurs. 1997 Aug;26(2):424-30. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2648.1997.1997026424.x.


The researchers wanted to obtain insight into the cooperation between physicians and nurses with regard to active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (EAS). In study I a stratified random sample of 203 clinical specialists, 152 general practitioners (GPs) and 50 nursing home physicians (NHPs) participated. In study II a random sample of 521 GPs was drawn from the province of North Holland and a random sample of 521 GPs was drawn from the rest of the Netherlands. For study III all NHPs were approached. Data were collected by means of an interview in study I. In studies II and III an anonymous, postal questionnaire was used. Approximately half of the GPs did not consult with nurses about a patient's request for EAS, the intention to administer EAS, and the actual administration. In 5% of cases, the NHPs and the specialists did not consult with nurses concerning these aspects. The GPs and NHPs indicated in 4% and 3% of the cases, respectively, that nurses administered the lethal drug(s) to the patients; the corresponding figure for the specialists was 21%. Almost all GPs and NHPs and about three-quarters of the specialists thought that nurses should never be allowed to administer EAS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Euthanasia / statistics & numerical data*
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Job Description*
  • Medicine
  • Netherlands
  • Nursing Care / methods*
  • Nursing Homes
  • Physician-Nurse Relations*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Specialization
  • Suicide, Assisted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires