Most nursing home residents spend the remainder of their life, until death, within a nursing home. As preserving dignity is an important aim of the care given here, insight into the way residents experience their dignity throughout their entire admission period is valuable.
To investigate if and how nursing home residents’ personal dignity changes over the course of time, and what contributes to this.
A longitudinal qualitative study.
Multiple in-depth interviews, with an interval of six months, were carried out with 22 purposively sampled nursing home residents of the general medical wards of four nursing homes in The Netherlands. Transcripts were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis.
From admission onwards, some residents experienced an improved sense of dignity, while others experienced a downward trend, a fluctuating one or no change at all. Two mechanisms were especially important for a nursing home resident to maintain or regain personal dignity: the feeling that one is in control of his life and the feeling that one is regarded as a worthwhile person. The acquirement of both feelings could be supported by 1) finding a way to cope with one’s situation; 2) getting acquainted with the new living structures in the nursing home and therefore feeling more at ease; 3) physical improvement (with or without an electric wheelchair); 4) being socially involved with nursing home staff, other residents and relatives; and 5) being amongst disabled others and therefore less prone to exposures of disrespect from the outer world.
Although the direction in which a resident’s personal dignity develops is also dependent on one’s character and coping capacities, nursing home staff can contribute to dignity by creating optimal conditions to help a nursing home resident recover feelings of control and of being regarded as a worthwhile person.
Patients with dementia frequently do not receive adequate palliative care which may relate to poor understanding of the natural course of dementia. We hypothesized that understanding that dementia is a progressive and terminal disease is fundamental to a focus on comfort in dementia, and examined how family and professional caregivers’ understanding of the nature of the disease was associated with patients’ comfort during the dying process.
We enrolled 372 nursing home patients from 28 facilities in The Netherlands in a prospective observational study (2007 to 2010). We studied both the families and the physicians (73) of 161 patients. Understanding referred to families’ comprehension of complications, prognosis, having been counseled on these, and perception of dementia as “a disease you can die from” (5-point agreement scale) at baseline. Physicians reported on this perception, prognosis and having counseled on this. Staff-assessed comfort with the End-of-Life in Dementia - Comfort Assessment in Dying (EOLD-CAD) scale. Associations between understanding and comfort were assessed with generalized estimating equations, structural equation modeling, and mediator analyses.
A family’s perception of dementia as “a disease you can die from” predicted higher patient comfort during the dying process (adjusted coefficient −0.8, 95% confidence interval (CI): −1.5; -0.06 point increment disagreement). Family and physician combined perceptions (−0.9, CI: −1.5; -0.2; 9-point scale) were also predictive, including in less advanced dementia. Forty-three percent of the families perceived dementia as a disease you can die from (agreed completely, partly); 94% of physicians did. The association between combined perception and higher comfort was mediated by the families’ reporting of a good relationship with the patient and physicians’ perception that good care was provided in the last week.
Awareness of the terminal nature of dementia may improve patient comfort at the end of life. Educating families on the nature of dementia may be an important part of advance care planning.
Palliative care; End of life; Dementia
Limited decision-making capacity (DMC) of older people affects their abilities to communicate about their preferences regarding end-of-life care. In an advance directive (AD) people can write down preferences for (non)treatment or appoint a proxy as a representative in (non)treatment choices in case of limited DMC.
The aim is to study limited DMC during the end of life and compare the background, (satisfaction with) care and communication characteristics of people with and without limited DMC. Furthermore, the aim is to describe patient proxies’ opinions about experiences with the use of (appointed proxy) ADs.
Using a questionnaire, data were collected from proxies of participants of a representative sample of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (n=168) and a purposive sample of the Advance Directive cohort study (n=184). Differences between groups (with and without limited DMC, and/or with and without AD) were tested with chi-square tests, using a level of significance of p < 0.05.
At a month before death 27% of people had limited DMC; this increased to 67% of people having limited DMC in the last week of life. The care received was in accordance with the patient’s preferences for the majority of older people, although less often for people who had limited DMC for more than a week. The majority of the proxies were satisfied with the communication between physician and the patient and them, regardless of DMC of the patient. Of people with an AD, a small majority of relatives indicated that the AD had been of additional value. Finally, no differences were found in the role of the relative and the satisfaction with this role between people with and without a proxy AD.
Although relatives have positive experiences with ADs, our study does not provide strong evidence that (proxy) ADs are very influential in the last phase of life. They can best be seen as a tool for advance care planning.
Decision-making capacity; End-of-life care; Older people; Advance directives; Appointed proxy
Many patients are transferred from home to hospital during the final phase of life and the majority die in hospital. The aim of the study is to explore hospital referrals of palliative care patients for whom an out-of-hours general practitioner was called.
A retrospective descriptive chart study was conducted covering a one-year period (1/Nov/2005 to 1/Nov/2006) in all eight out-of-hours GP co-operatives in the Amsterdam region (Netherlands). All symptoms, sociodemographic and medical characteristics were recorded in 529 charts for palliative care patients. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to identify the variables associated with hospital referrals at the end of life.
In all, 13% of all palliative care patients for whom an out-of-hours general practitioner was called were referred to hospital. Palliative care patients with cancer (OR 5,1), cardiovascular problems (OR 8,3), digestive problems (OR 2,5) and endocrine, metabolic and nutritional (EMN) problems (OR 2,5) had a significantly higher chance of being referred. Patients receiving professional nursing care (OR 0,2) and patients for whom their own general practitioner had transferred information to the out-of-hours cooperative (OR 0,4) had a significantly lower chance of hospital referral. The most frequent reasons for hospital referral, as noted by the out-of-hours general practitioner, were digestive (30%), EMN (19%) and respiratory (17%) problems.
Whilst acknowledging that an out-of-hours hospital referral can be the most desirable option in some situations, this study provides suggestions for avoiding undesirable hospital referrals by out-of-hours general practitioners at the end of life. These include anticipating digestive, EMN, respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms in palliative care patients.
General Practice; Primary Care; Palliative Care; Out of Hours; Hospital Referral; Cancer; Symptoms
Unbearable suffering most frequently is reported in end-of-life cancer patients in primary care. However, research seldom addresses unbearable suffering. The aim of this study was to comprehensively investigate the various aspects of unbearable suffering in end-of-life cancer patients cared for in primary care.
Forty four general practitioners recruited end-of-life cancer patients with an estimated life expectancy of half a year or shorter. The inclusion period was three years, follow-up lasted one additional year. Practices were monitored bimonthly to identify new cases. Unbearable aspects in five domains and overall unbearable suffering were quantitatively assessed (5-point scale) through patient interviews every two months with a comprehensive instrument. Scores of 4 (serious) or 5 (hardly can be worse) were defined unbearable. The last interviews before death were analyzed. Sources providing strength to bear suffering were identified through additional open-ended questions.
Seventy six out of 148 patients (51%) requested to participate consented; the attrition rate was 8%, while 8% were alive at the end of follow-up. Sixty four patients were followed up until death; in 60 patients interviews were complete. Overall unbearable suffering occurred in 28%. A mean of 18 unbearable aspects was present in patients with serious (score 4) overall unbearable suffering. Overall, half of the unbearable aspects involved the domain of traditional medical symptoms. The most frequent unbearable aspects were weakness, general discomfort, tiredness, pain, loss of appetite and not sleeping well (25%-57%). The other half of the unbearable aspects involved the domains of function, personhood, environment, and nature and prognosis of disease. The most frequent unbearable aspects were impaired activities, feeling dependent, help needed with housekeeping, not being able to do important things, trouble accepting the situation, being bedridden and loss of control (27%-55%). The combination of love and support was the most frequent source (67%) providing strength to bear suffering.
Overall unbearable suffering occurred in one in every four end-of-life cancer patients. Half of the unbearable aspects involved medical symptoms, the other half concerned psychological, social and existential dimensions. Physicians need to comprehensively assess suffering and provide psychosocial interventions alongside physical symptom management.
Case management is a heterogeneous concept of care that consists of assessment, planning, implementing, coordinating, monitoring, and evaluating the options and services required to meet the client's health and service needs. This paper describes the result of an expert panel procedure to gain insight into the aims and characteristics of case management in palliative care in the Netherlands.
A modified version of the RAND®/University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) appropriateness method was used to formulate and rate a list of aims and characteristics of case management in palliative care. A total of 76 health care professionals, researchers and policy makers were invited to join the expert panel, of which 61% participated in at least one round.
Nine out of ten aims of case management were met with agreement. The most important areas of disagreement with regard to characteristics of case management were hands-on nursing care by the case manager, target group of case management, performance of other tasks besides case management and accessibility of the case manager.
Although aims are agreed upon, case management in palliative care shows a high level of variability in implementation choices. Case management should aim at maintaining continuity of care to ensure that patients and those close to them experience care as personalised, coherent and consistent.
Case management; End of life care; Palliative care
To describe role and involvement of Life End Information Forum (LEIF) physicians in end-of-life care decisions and euthanasia in Flanders.
All 132 LEIF physicians in Belgium received a questionnaire inquiring about their activities in the past year, and their end-of-life care training and experience.
Response rate was 75 percent. Most respondents followed substantive training in end-of-life care. In 1 year, LEIF physicians were contacted 612 times for consultations in end-of-life decisions, of which 355 concerned euthanasia requests eventually resulting in 221 euthanasia cases. LEIF physicians also gave information about various end-of-life issues (including palliative care) to patients and colleagues.
LEIF physicians provide a forum for information and advice for physicians and patients. A similar health service providing support to physicians for all end-of-life decisions could also be beneficial for countries without a euthanasia law.
Consultation; euthanasia; end-of-life decisions
Maintaining dignity, the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect, is considered as a goal of palliative care. The aim of this study was to analyse the construct of personal dignity and to assess the content validity of the Patient Dignity Inventory (PDI) in people with an advance directive in the Netherlands.
Data were collected within the framework of an advance directives cohort study. This cohort study is aiming to get a better insight into how decisions are made at the end of life with regard to advance directives in the Netherlands. One half of the cohort (n = 2404) received an open-ended question concerning factors relevant to dignity. Content labels were assigned to issues mentioned in the responses to the open-ended question. The other half of the cohort (n = 2537) received a written questionnaire including the PDI. The relevance and comprehensiveness of the PDI items were assessed with the COSMIN checklist ('COnsensus-based Standards for the selection of health status Measurement INstruments').
The majority of the PDI items were found to be relevant for the construct to be measured, the study population, and the purpose of the study but the items were not completely comprehensive. The responses to the open-ended question indicated that communication and care-related aspects were also important for dignity.
This study demonstrated that the PDI items were relevant for people with an advance directive in the Netherlands. The comprehensiveness of the items can be improved by including items concerning communication and care.
What is the level of knowledge of pharmacists concerning pain management and the use of opioids at the end of life, and how do they cooperate with physicians?
A written questionnaire was sent to a sample of community and hospital pharmacists in the Netherlands. The questionnaire was completed by 182 pharmacists (response rate 45%).
Pharmacists were aware of the most basic knowledge about opioids. Among the respondents, 29% erroneously thought that life-threatening respiratory depression was a danger with pain control, and 38% erroneously believed that opioids were the preferred drug for palliative sedation. One in three responding pharmacists did not think his/her theoretical knowledge was sufficient to provide advice on pain control. Most pharmacists had working agreements with physicians on euthanasia (81%), but fewer had working agreements on palliative sedation (46%) or opioid therapy (25%). Based on the experience of most of responding pharmacists (93%), physicians were open to unsolicited advice on opioid prescriptions. The majority of community pharmacists (94%) checked opioid prescriptions most often only after dispensing, while it was not a common practice among the majority of hospital pharmacists (68%) to check prescriptions at all.
Although the basic knowledge of most pharmacists was adequate, based on the responses to the questionnaire, there seems to be a lack of knowledge in several areas, which may hamper pharmacists in improving the quality of care when giving advice to physicians and preventing or correcting mistakes if necessary. If education is improved, a more active role of the pharmacist may improve the quality of end-of-life pharmacotherapy.
Opioids; Pain management; Pharmacists; Knowledge; Education; Multidisciplinary cooperation
Legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide has been heavily debated in many countries. To help inform this debate, we describe the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and the use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request from the patient, in Flanders, Belgium, where euthanasia is legal.
We mailed a questionnaire regarding the use of life-ending drugs with or without explicit patient request to physicians who certified a representative sample (n = 6927) of death certificates of patients who died in Flanders between June and November 2007.
The response rate was 58.4%. Overall, 208 deaths involving the use of life-ending drugs were reported: 142 (weighted prevalence 2.0%) were with an explicit patient request (euthanasia or assisted suicide) and 66 (weighted prevalence 1.8%) were without an explicit request. Euthanasia and assisted suicide mostly involved patients less than 80 years of age, those with cancer and those dying at home. Use of life-ending drugs without an explicit request mostly involved patients 80 years of older, those with a disease other than cancer and those in hospital. Of the deaths without an explicit request, the decision was not discussed with the patient in 77.9% of cases. Compared with assisted deaths with the patient’s explicit request, those without an explicit request were more likely to have a shorter length of treatment of the terminal illness, to have cure as a goal of treatment in the last week, to have a shorter estimated time by which life was shortened and to involve the administration of opioids.
Physician-assisted deaths with an explicit patient request (euthanasia and assisted suicide) and without an explicit request occurred in different patient groups and under different circumstances. Cases without an explicit request often involved patients whose diseases had unpredictable end-of-life trajectories. Although opioids were used in most of these cases, misconceptions seem to persist about their actual life-shortening effects.
ADs are documents in which one can state one's preferences concerning end-of-life care, aimed at making someone's wishes known in situations where he/she is not able to do so in another manner. There is still a lot unclear about ADs. We designed a study aimed at investigating the whole process from the formulating of an AD to its actual use at the end of life.
The study has mixed methods: it's longitudinal, consisting of a quantitative cohort-study which provides a framework for predominantly qualitative sub-studies. The members of the cohort are persons owning an AD, recruited through two Dutch associations who provide the most common standard ADs in the Netherlands, the NVVE (Right to Die-NL), of which 5561 members participate, and the NPV (Dutch Patient Organisation), of which 1263 members participate. Both groups were compared to a sample of the Dutch general public. NVVE-respondents are more often single, higher educated and non-religious, while amongst NPV-respondents there are more Protestants compared to the Dutch public. They are sent a questionnaire every 1,5 year with a follow-up of at least 7,5 years. The response rate after the second round was 88% respectively 90% for the NVVE and NPV. Participants were asked if we were allowed to approach close-ones after their possible death in the future. In this way we can get insight in the actual use of ADs at the end of life, also by comparing our data to that from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, whose respondents generally do not have an AD.
The cohort is representative for people with an AD as is required to study the main research questions. The longitudinal nature of the study as well as the use of qualitative methods makes it has a broad scope, focusing on the whole course of decision-making involving ADs. It is possible to compare the end of life between patients with and without an AD with the use of data from another cohort.
The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg have adopted laws decriminalizing euthanasia under strict conditions of prudent practice. These laws stipulate, among other things, that the attending physician should consult an independent colleague to judge whether the substantive criteria of due care have been met. In this context initiatives were taken in the Netherlands and Belgium to establish specialized services providing such consultants: Support and Consultation for Euthanasia in the Netherlands (SCEN) and Life End Information Forum (LEIF) in Belgium. The aim of this study is to describe and compare these initiatives.
We studied and compared relevant documents concerning the Dutch and Belgian consultation service (e.g. articles of bye-laws, inventories of activities, training books, consultation protocols).
In both countries, the consultation services are delivered by trained physicians who can be consulted in cases of a request for euthanasia and who offer support and information to attending physicians. The context in which the two organisations were founded, as well as the way they are organised and regulated, is different in each country. By providing information on all end-of-life care matters, the Belgian LEIF seems to have a broader consultation role than the Dutch SCEN. SCEN on the other hand has a longer history, is more regulated and organised on a larger scale and receives more government funding than LEIF. The number of training hours for physicians is equal. However, SCEN-training puts more emphasis on the consultation report, whereas LEIF-training primarily emphasizes the ethical framework of end-of-life decisions.
In case of a request for euthanasia, in the Netherlands as well as in Belgium similar consultation services by independent qualified physicians have been developed. In countries where legalising physician-assisted death is being contemplated, the development of such a consultation provision could also be considered in order to safeguard the practice of euthanasia (as it can provide safeguards to adequate performance of euthanasia and assisted suicide).
Unbearable suffering is an important issue in end-of-life decisions. However, there has been no systematic, prospective, patient-oriented research which has focused on unbearable suffering, nor is there a suitable measurement instrument. This article describes the methodological development of a quantitative instrument to measure the nature and intensity of unbearable suffering, practical aspects of its use in end-stage cancer patients in general practice, and studies content validity and psychometric properties.
Recognizing the conceptual difference between unbearability of suffering and extent or intensity of suffering, we developed an instrument. The compilation of aspects considered to be of importance was based on a literature search. Psychometric properties were determined on results of the first interviews with 64 end-stage cancer patients that participated in a longitudinal study in the Netherlands.
The instrument measures five domains: medical signs and symptoms, loss of function, personal aspects, aspects of environment, and nature and prognosis of the disease. Sixty nine aspects were investigated, and an overall score was asked. In 64 end-stage cancer patients the instrument was used in total 153 times with an average interview time varying from 20-40 minutes. Cronbachs alpha's of the subscales were in majority above 0.7. The sum scores of (sub)scales were correlated strongly to overall measures on suffering.
The SOS-V is an instrument for measuring the unbearability of suffering in end-stage cancer patients with good content validity and psychometric properties, which is feasible to be used in practice. This structured instrument makes it possible to identify and study unbearable suffering in a quantitative and patient-oriented way.
Two decades of research on euthanasia in the Netherlands have resulted into clear insights in the frequency and characteristics of euthanasia and other medical end-of-life decisions in the Netherlands. These empirical studies have contributed to the quality of the public debate, and to the regulating and public control of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide. No slippery slope seems to have occurred. Physicians seem to adhere to the criteria for due care in the large majority of cases. Further, it has been shown that the majority of physicians think that the euthanasia Act has improved their legal certainty and contributes to the carefulness of life-terminating acts. In 2005, eighty percent of the euthanasia cases were reported to the review committees. Thus, the transparency envisaged by the Act still does not extend to all cases. Unreported cases almost all involve the use of opioids, and are not considered to be euthanasia by physicians. More education and debate is needed to disentangle in these situations which acts should be regarded as euthanasia and which should not. Medical end-of-life decision-making is a crucial part of end-of-life care. It should therefore be given continuous attention in health care policy and medical training. Systematic periodic research is crucial for enhancing our understanding of end-of-life care in modern medicine, in which the pursuit of a good quality of dying is nowadays widely recognized as an important goal, in addition to the traditional goals such as curing diseases and prolonging life.
Euthanasia; The Netherlands
Doctors in the United Kingdom can accompany their patients every step of the way, up until the last.
The law stops them helping their patients take the final step, even if that is the patient's fervent wish.
Next month's debate in the House of Lords could begin the process of changing the law. To help doctors
decide where they stand we publish a range of opinions
Older patients often experience sub-standard communication in the palliative phase of illness. Due to the importance of good communication in patient-centred end-of-life care, it is essential to understand the factors which influence older patients’ communication with physicians. This study examines older patients’ attitudes towards, and experiences of, patient-physician end-of-life (EoL) communication in three European countries.
A secondary analysis of interviews from British, Dutch and Belgian patients over the age of 60 with a progressive terminal illness was conducted. Cross-cutting themes were identified using a thematic approach.
Themes from 30 interviews (Male n = 20, Median age 78.5) included: confidence and trust; disclosure and awareness; and participation in decision-making. Confidence and trust were reinforced by physicians’ availability, time and genuine attention and hindered by misdiagnoses and poor communication style. Most participants preferred full disclosure, though some remained deliberately ill-informed to avoid distress. Patients expressed a variety of preferences for and experiences of involvement in medical EoL decision-making and a few complained that information was only provided about the physician's preferred treatment.
A variety of experiences and attitudes regarding disclosure and participation in decision-making were reported from each country, suggesting that communication preferences are highly individual. It is important that physicians are sensitive to this diversity and avoid stereotyping. In regard to communication style, physicians are advised to provide clear explanations, avoid jargon, and continually check understanding. Both the ‘informed’ and the ‘shared’ patient-physician decision-making models assume patients make rational choices based on a clear understanding of treatment options. This idealized situation was often not reflected in patients’ experiences.
Palliative; End-of-life; Communication; Decision-making; Older patients; Qualitative
Recognising patients who will die in the near future is important for adequate planning and provision of end-of-life care. GPs can play a key role in this.
To explore the following questions: How long before death do GPs recognise patients likely to die in the near future? Which patient, illness, and care-related characteristics are related to such recognition? How does recognising death in the near future, before the last week of life, relate to care in during this period?
Design and setting
One-year follow-back study via a surveillance GP network in the Netherlands.
Registration of demographic and care-related characteristics.
Of 252 non-sudden deaths, 70% occurred in the home or care home and 30% in hospital. GP recognition of death in the near future was absent in 30%, and occurred prior to the last month in 15%, within the last month in 19%, and in the last week in 34%. Logistic regression analyses showed cancer and low functional status were positively associated with death in the near future; cancer and discussing palliative care options were positively associated with recognising death in the near future before the last week of life. Recognising death in the near future before patients’ last week of life was associated with fewer hospital deaths, more GP–patient contacts in the last week, more deaths in a preferred place, and more-frequent GP–patient discussions about specific topics in the last 7 days of life.
Recognising death in the near future precedes several aspects of end-of-life care. The proportion in whom death in the near future is never recognised is large, suggesting GPs could be assisted in this process through training and implementation of care protocols that promote timely recognition of the dying phase.
death; general practitioner; home care; primary care; recognition of dying phase; terminal care
Pain is still one of the most frequently occurring symptoms at the end of life, although it can be treated satisfactorily in most cases if the physician has adequate knowledge. In the Netherlands, almost 60% of the patients with non-acute illnesses die at home where end of life care is coordinated by the general practitioner (GP); about 30% die in hospitals (cared for by clinical specialists), and about 10% in nursing homes (cared for by elderly care physicians).
The research question of this study is: what is the level of knowledge of Dutch physicians concerning pain management and the use of opioids at the end of life?
A written questionnaire was sent to a random sample of physicians of specialties most often involved in end of life care in the Netherlands. The questionnaire was completed by 406 physicians, response rate 41%.
Almost all physicians were aware of the most basal knowledge about opioids, e.g. that it is important for treatment purposes to distinguish nociceptive from neuropathic pain (97%). Approximately half of the physicians (46%) did not know that decreased renal function raises plasma concentration of morphine(-metabolites) and 34% of the clinical specialists erroneously thought opioids are the favoured drug for palliative sedation.
Although 91% knew that opioids titrated against pain do not shorten life, 10% sometimes or often gave higher dosages than needed with the explicit aim to hasten death. About half felt sometimes or often pressured by relatives to hasten death by increasing opioiddosage.
The large majority (83%) of physicians was interested in additional education about subjects related to the end of life, the most popular subject was opioid rotation (46%).
Although the basic knowledge of physicians was adequate, there seemed to be a lack of knowledge in several areas, which can be a barrier for good pain management at the end of life. From this study four areas emerge, in which it seems likely that an improvement can improve the quality of pain management at the end of life for many patients in the Netherlands: 1)palliative sedation; 2)expected effect of opioids on survival; and 3) opioid rotation.
In this study we investigated (a) to what extent physicians have experience with performing a range of end-of-life decisions (ELDs), (b) if they have no experience with performing an ELD, would they be willing to do so under certain conditions and (c) which background characteristics are associated with having experience with/or being willing to make such ELDs.
An anonymous questionnaire was sent to 16,486 physicians from specialities in which death is common: Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.
The response rate differed between countries (39–68%). The experience of foregoing life-sustaining treatment ranged between 37% and 86%: intensifying the alleviation of pain or other symptoms while taking into account possible hastening of death between 57% and 95%, and experience with deep sedation until death between 12% and 46%. Receiving a request for hastening death differed between 34% and 71%, and intentionally hastening death on the explicit request of a patient between 1% and 56%.
There are differences between countries in experiences with ELDs, in willingness to perform ELDs and in receiving requests for euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. Foregoing treatment and intensifying alleviation of pain and symptoms are practiced and accepted by most physicians in all countries. Physicians with training in palliative care are more inclined to perform ELDs, as are those who attend to higher numbers of terminal patients. Thus, this seems not to be only a matter of opportunity, but also a matter of attitude.