Journal of palliative care vol:25 issue:4 pages:264-274
This study explored nurses' involvement in the care process for mentally competent, terminally ill patients requesting euthanasia in general hospitals in Flanders, Belgium. In-depth interviews with 18 nurses who had experience in caring for patients requesting euthanasia since May 2002 were analyzed using grounded theory qualitative methods. We found that the involvement of nurses in the care process is influenced by their predominant perspective on it: the procedural, action-focused perspective, from which good practical organization of the care process is essential; or the existential-interpretative perspective, from which it is important to understand the patient's request within a dialogue-focused and communicational atmosphere. Findings show that the two perspectives are not mutually exclusive, but rather complementary dimensions of the euthanasia care process. Hence, sufficient support for nurses to reach a well-balanced integration of both perspectives is essential.