Oral Presentation Australasian Association of Bioethics & Health Law and New Zealand Bioethics Conference

Supporting Patients, Families, and Palliative Care Clinicians in the New Legislative Era of Assisted Dying (1042)

Anita Ho 1 , Soodabeh Joolaee 1 , Kim Jameson 1 , Christopher Ng 1 , David Kirchhoffer 2 , Chi-Wai Lui 2
  1. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada
  2. Austrlain Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia

As legislation regarding medically assisted death develops and evolves in Canada and Australia, healthcare organizations are establishing guidelines and processes to address ethical issues and support patients, families, and clinicians in the new legal landscape. This presentation will focus on findings from our qualitative content analysis of semi-structured interviews with 26 interprofessional palliative and hospice care providers (PHCPs) in Vancouver, Canada. The interviews elicit PHCPs’ experience caring for patients who inquired about or requested assisted dying. They focus on PHCPs’ views of what is working well when engaging in end-of-life (EOL) discussions and providing EOL care since the legalization of assisted dying, challenges and dilemmas PHCPs have encountered or foresee, and what resources may help to enhance their ability to manage various challenges and provide high-quality care in the new legislative era.  Participants highlighted the moral dimensions of their evolving roles and responsibilities in supporting patients and families.  In particular, they noted logistical and symbolic similarities and differences in advising and supporting patients, families, and colleagues through natural vs assisted deaths.  They discussed how assisted dying evokes different forms of moral distress for PHCPs of various roles and belief systems, and also requires different bereavement support for families. This presentation will explore how these factors intersect as PHCPs and institutions adjust to the new legal and organizational realities. Findings will inform international practices and guidelines that can help to support interprofessional care providers, patients, and families as they navigate the new ethical and legal terrain in EOL care.