Ethical and moral debates on euthanasia have emerged in the last couple of decades. Pro-euthanasia campaigners consider the process ethical because it alleviates suffering, emotional anguish and prevents the accumulation of hospital bills. However, other groups find the process unethical because it contradicts the professionals’ Hippocratic Oath. Nurses and other healthcare professionals practice euthanasia by withdrawing medical support or providing lethal but painless medication. In most cases, nurses do not reveal their intentions or motivations for practicing euthanasia. Their compliance with the patients’ requests is considered a professional duty rather than a psychosocial effect.
Most of the available research focuses on the ethical, legal, and moral implications of euthanasia. The studies have concentrated on the patients while giving minimum attention to the healthcare professionals. Very few studies focus on the intentions and the motivations of nurses in practicing euthanasia. The psychological and behavioral determinants of nurses’ intentions towards euthanasia have not been evaluated in palliative care. Previous studies have failed to document the inspirations behind nurses’ decisions and recommendations for euthanasia. A research gap exists in the motivations that encourage nurses and other healthcare professionals to practice or recommend euthanasia to critically ill patients.
Purpose of study
The research evaluates the nurses’ motivation and inspiration for practicing euthanasia. The psychosocial and behavioral characteristics play a significant role in shaping the intentions of nurses to practice or contribute to voluntary suicide. The research aims at investigating the determinants of nurses ‘intentions to practice euthanasia.
According to Vézina-Im, Lavoie, Krol, and Olivier-D’Avignon (2014), most of the nurses practice euthanasia based on the frequency and previous participation in assisted suicide. Additionally, the researchers found a correlation between medical specialty and the likelihood of exercising or recommending euthanasia. Vézina-Im et al. (2014) reviewed 27 empirical studies and found a strong relationship between the patients’ conditions and the nurses’ intentions to facilitate the termination of life. In a similar study by Dombe, Barzilay, Koton, and Tabak (2014), nurses emphasized individual beliefs in life and death. Additionally, the research showed a high correlation between the nurses’ behavioral intentions and the likelihood of recommending euthanasia to critically ill patients. Nurses with stronger beliefs and respect for life had reduced behavioral intentions while those with weaker beliefs had higher motivations towards euthanasia. The research demonstrated the correlation between the nurses’ personal beliefs and their willingness to practice euthanasia.
According to Lavoie et al. (2014), nurses in palliative care have a higher intention towards euthanasia compared to those working in other departments. Additionally, the researchers found a high correlation between the families’ intentions and the willingness of nurses to practice euthanasia. In cases where the family members supported euthanasia, nurses were more likely to practice or recommend the medical process. The awareness of patients’ conditions and suffering motivates the nurses to recommend or practice euthanasia (Newham, 2013). While most of the studies showed a high correlation between psychosocial determinants and the motivation to practice euthanasia, some showed an insignificant relationship between the patients’ wishes and nurses’ intentions. In a research by Godin et al. (2014), nurses’ intentions were not affected by knowing the patients’ wishes. However, the study found a significant correlation between knowing the patients’ wishes and the intentions of other healthcare professionals. Nurses have an important role in euthanasia because they understand the patients’ conditions and can predict the life expectancy of individuals in palliative care.
Dombe, S., Barzilay, B., Koton, S., & Tabak, N. (2015). Nurses’ behavioral intentions toward euthanasia of severely ill preterm infants and neonates. AJOB Empirical Bioethics, 6(2), 43-50.
Godin, G., Lavoie, M., Vézina-Im, L. A., Blondeau, D., Martineau, I., & Roy, L. (2014). Effect of knowing patients ‘wishes and health profession on Euthanasia. J Palliat Care Med, 4(1), 1-6.
Lavoie, M., Godin, G., Vézina-Im, L. A., Blondeau, D., Martineau, I., & Roy, L. (2014). Psychosocial Determinants of nurses’ intention to practice euthanasia in palliative care. Nursing ethics, 1-13.
Newham, R. A. (2013). An internal morality of nursing: what it can and cannot do. Nursing Philosophy, 14(2), 109-116.
Vézina-Im, L. A., Lavoie, M., Krol, P., & Olivier-D’Avignon, M. (2014). Motivations of physicians and nurses to practice voluntary euthanasia: a systematic review. BMC palliative care, 13(1), 1-17.