Studying high quality of care at the end of life

Despite improved cancer therapies, more than 25.000 persons still annually die of cancer in Belgium. For those persons, there is considerable room for improvement in the quality of care at the end of life. Only 30% of them die at home and many receive potentially burdensome and inappropriate care at the end of life. Furthermore, 60% of patients with a lung disorder are hospitalized in the last 30 days prior to death, and only 12% receive palliative care. Of the 10.000 persons with dementia that annually die in Belgium, 1 out of 4 are still being admitted to a hospital emergency service in their last days of life.

End-of-Life Care Research Group

The End-of-Life Care Research Group, managed by professors Luc Deliens (VUB) and Freddy Mortier (UGent), has been conducting scientific research on improving end of life care for more than 25 years. With this fund, founded by UZ Gent and deMens.nu, the research group aims to raise financial means to support timely use of palliative and end-of-life care. By doing so, the research group aims to improve the quality of life of those involved in the care at the end of life. Improving the quality of end-of-life practices such as euthanasia is also an important objective.

To the website of the End-of-Life Care Research Group.

'A practice guide does not replace medical reasoning, but it certainly helps it one step further.'


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Developing a practice guide about euthanasia

With a first two-year research project the Fund aims to support a project in which a practice guide about euthanasia for attending physicians will be developed. This practice guide will be based on the support needs of patients, patients’ relatives and professional caregivers, including physicians. The practice guide will focus on how to deal with a euthanasia request, how to prepare and perform euthanasia, and how to carry out care after the performance of euthanasia or rejection of a euthanasia request.

The project has 3 aims:

  1. Identifying the support needs of those involved in euthanasia practice (patients, patients’ relatives, and professional caregivers);
  2. Developing an evidence-based practice guide about euthanasia for physicians;
  3. Developing an implementation strategy for the practice guide.

Why a new practice guide is needed

Current euthanasia guidelines are mainly limited to medical-technical support in performing euthanasia and interpreting the legal requirements for euthanasia. There is a lack of attention for how to deal with a euthanasia request and the period after the performance or rejection of a request. Current guidelines generally do not respond to the support needs of others involved besides physicians and patients. Moreover, their scientific evidence base is often limited.

Research shows that patients, their relatives and professional caregivers can experience different challenges and support needs. More attention to their support needs can lead to improved quality of care and wellbeing for all those involved.



Donate today at the bank account number BE51 0013 6779 3562 of the VUB with reference GIFT FO9 or give online. Donations of €40 and higher are tax deductible.

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