Experiences with counselling to people who wish to be able to self-determine the timing and manner of one’s own end of life: a qualitative in-depth interview study

Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (1):39-46 (2021)
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BackgroundIn the Netherlands, Foundation De Einder offers counselling to people who wish to be able to self-determine the timing and manner of their end of life.AimThis study explores the experiences with counselling that counselees receive from counsellors facilitated by Foundation De Einder.MethodsOpen coding and inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with 17 counselees.ResultsCounselling ranged from solely receiving information about lethal medication to combining this with psychological counselling about matters of life and death, and the effects for close ones. Counselees appreciated the availability of the counsellor, their careful and open attitude, feeling respected and being reminded about their own responsibility. Some counselees felt dependent on the counsellor, or questioned their competency. Most counselees collected lethal medication. This gave them peace of mind and increased their quality of life, but also led to new concerns. Few were inclined to use their self-collected medication. Counselling contributed to thinking about if, when and how counselees would like to end their life.ConclusionHaving obtained means to end their lives can offer people feelings of reassurance, which can increase their quality of life, but can also give rise to new concerns. Next to providing information on lethal medication, counsellors can play an important role by having an open non-judgemental attitude, providing trustworthy information and being available. These positively valued aspects of counselling are also relevant for physicians taking care of patients who wish to self-determine the timing and manner of their end of life.



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