Conversations on assisted dying: how involved are nurses?

By Michel Wilson, Adelaide Nursing School, University of Adelaide|
2019-07-11T11:42:27+10:00
July 11th, 2019|

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A new study is being undertaken on the involvement of nurses when conversing with patients about assisted dying. The study is looking for nurse participants.


If you were asked by a patient for information about voluntary assisted dying, how would you respond?

Recent legislation in Victoria means that nearly 25% of Australians may have access to voluntary assisted dying services. Similar legislation may now follow in other states and territories. It is likely that nurses will more frequently be asked questions about voluntary assisted dying by patients.

A recent study from the University of Adelaide Nursing School involved 45 experienced Australian nurses from palliative, intensive, cancer, or aged care settings.  The study identified four dominant types of responses to these requests for information about voluntary assisted dying.  Each type was a mixture of complex feelings, cognitions, and beliefs. These response types were:

  • The nurse offers support to progress the request to the medical team.
  • The nurse explores with the patient their concerns or motivations that led to the request.
  • The nurse assesses the patient’s support and information needs.
  • The nurse’s own values override the request and the patient’s attention is drawn to enhanced palliation instead of assisted-dying.

The next stage of this study will explore the interplay of psychosocial elements that might predict how a nurse will respond.  This follow-up study using a brief survey (12-15 minutes) will help build a model that might explain a nurse’s response to what is certain to become an increasingly frequent clinical encounter.  The outcomes of this study will assist future support and preparation for nurses to handle these difficult conversations.

To take this survey, CLICK HERE!

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