Relatives’ experiences of being involved in assisted dying : a qualitative study

Authors & affiliation

Charlotte Boven, Let Dillen, Sigrid Dierickx, Lieve Van den Block, Ruth Piers, Nele Van Den Noortgate, Liesbeth Van Humbeeck


Recent literature demonstrates an interdependence between relatives and healthcare providers throughout euthanasia processes. Yet, current guidelines and literature scarcely specify the interactions between healthcare providers and bereaved relatives. The aim of this work consisted of providing an insight into bereaved relatives' experiences (1) of being involved in euthanasia processes and (2) of their interactions with healthcare providers before, during, and after the euthanasia. The research process was guided by the principles of constructivist grounded theory. Nineteen Dutch-speaking bereaved relatives of oncological patients, who received euthanasia at home or in a hospital less than 24 months ago, participated via semi-structured interviews. These interviews were conducted between May 2021 and June 2022. Due to the intensity of euthanasia processes, relatives wanted to be involved as early as possible, in order to receive time, space, and access to professionals' support whilst preparing themselves for the upcoming loss of a family member with cancer. Being at peace with the euthanasia request facilitated taking a supportive attitude, subsequently aiding in achieving a serene atmosphere. A serene atmosphere facilitated relatives' grief process because it helped them in creating and preserving good memories. Relatives appreciated support from healthcare providers, as long as overinvolvement on their part was not occurring. This study advocates for a relational approach in the context of euthanasia and provides useful complements to the existing euthanasia guidelines.

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Staff members:

Charlotte Boven

Link to publication

Open link


2023_BovenC_QualHealthRes.pdf (open)

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