The request for assistance in dying the need for psychiatric consultation

Walter F. Baile, Joseph R. Dimaggio, David V. Schapira, Jeffrey S. Janofsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. Public initiatives and legislative proposals have increased the likelihood that some states will legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide as a means of ending the suffering of patients with terminal illness. However, suggested safeguards that would guide physicians in such cases have not properly addressed the need to evaluate psychosocial factors that could motivate patients' requests for premature death. Methods. Four cases of patients with cancer who expressed a wish to end their lives prematurely are described. These cases were evaluated with regard to mental and emotional functioning. Results. Pain and suffering, organic mental disease, depression, and personality issues play significant roles in patients' requests for assistance in dying. Conclusion. Comprehensive psychosocial assessment is needed when evaluating requests for assistance in dying. This assessment may reveal hidden problems or conflicts that affect rational decision making, a prerequisite to informed consent for any procedure or intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2786-2791
Number of pages6
JournalCancer
Volume72
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 1993

Keywords

  • assistance in dying
  • consultation
  • psychosocial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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