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1.  News media coverage of euthanasia: a content analysis of Dutch national newspapers 
BMC Medical Ethics  2013;14:11.
Background
The Netherlands is one of the few countries where euthanasia is legal under strict conditions. This study investigates whether Dutch newspaper articles use the term ‘euthanasia’ according to the legal definition and determines what arguments for and against euthanasia they contain.
Methods
We did an electronic search of seven Dutch national newspapers between January 2009 and May 2010 and conducted a content analysis.
Results
Of the 284 articles containing the term ‘euthanasia’, 24% referred to practices outside the scope of the law, mostly relating to the forgoing of life-prolonging treatments and assistance in suicide by others than physicians. Of the articles with euthanasia as the main topic, 36% described euthanasia in the context of a terminally ill patient, 24% for older persons, 16% for persons with dementia, and 9% for persons with a psychiatric disorder. The most frequent arguments for euthanasia included the importance of self-determination and the fact that euthanasia contributes to a good death. The most frequent arguments opposing euthanasia were that suffering should instead be alleviated by better care, that providing euthanasia can be disturbing, and that society should protect the vulnerable.
Conclusions
Of the newspaper articles, 24% uses the term ‘euthanasia’ for practices that are outside the scope of the euthanasia law. Typically, the more unusual cases are discussed. This might lead to misunderstandings between citizens and physicians. Despite the Dutch legalisation of euthanasia, the debate about its acceptability and boundaries is ongoing and both sides of the debate are clearly represented.
doi:10.1186/1472-6939-14-11
PMCID: PMC3599791  PMID: 23497284
Euthanasia; Media; Content analysis
2.  The Doctor and the Market: About the Influence of Market Reforms on the Professional Medical Ethics of Surgeons and General Practitioners in The Netherlands 
Health Care Analysis  2011;19(4):388-402.
To explore whether market reforms in a health care system affect medical professional ethics of hospital-based specialists on the one hand and physicians in independent practices on the other. Qualitative interviews with 27 surgeons and 28 general practitioners in The Netherlands, held 2–3 years after a major overhaul of the Dutch health care system involving several market reforms. Surgeons now regularly advertise their work (while this was forbidden in the past) and pay more attention to patients with relatively minor afflictions, thus deviating from codes of ethics that oblige physicians to treat each other as brothers and to treat patients according to medical need. Dutch GPs have abandoned their traditional reticence and their fear of medicalization. They now seem to treat more in accordance with patients’ preferences and less in accordance with medical need. Market reforms do affect medical professional principles, and it is doubtful whether these changes were intended when Dutch policy makers decided to introduce market elements in the health care system. Policy makers in other countries considering similar reforms should pay attention to these results.
doi:10.1007/s10728-011-0166-z
PMCID: PMC3212676  PMID: 21267659
Medical professional ethics; Market reforms; Surgeons; General practitioners
3.  Government Influence on Patient Organizations 
Health Care Analysis  2010;19(4):329-351.
Patient organizations increasingly play an important role in health care decision-making in Western countries. The Netherlands is one of the countries where this trend has gone furthest. In the literature some problems are identified, such as instrumental use of patient organizations by care providers, health insurers and the pharmaceutical industry. To strengthen the position of patient organizations government funding is often recommended as a solution. In this paper we analyze the ties between Dutch government and Dutch patient organizations to learn more about the effects of such a relationship between government and this part of civil society. Our study is based on official government documents and existing empirical research on patient organizations. We found that government influence on patient organizations has become quite substantial with government influencing the organizational structure of patient organizations, the activities these organizations perform and even their ideology. Financing patient organizations offers the government an important means to hold them accountable. Although the ties between patient organizations and the government enable the former to play a role that can be valued as positive by both parties, we argue that they raise problems as well which warrant a discussion on how much government influence on civil society is acceptable.
doi:10.1007/s10728-010-0155-7
PMCID: PMC3212690  PMID: 20803075
Civil society; Government influence; Health care decision-making; Patient organizations
4.  Reconsidering Patient Participation in Guideline Development 
Health Care Analysis  2008;17(3):198-216.
Health care has become increasingly patient-centred and medical guidelines are considered to be one of the instruments that contribute towards making it so. We reviewed the literature to identify studies on this subject. Both normative and empirical studies were analysed. Many studies recommend active patient participation in the process of guideline development as the instrument to make guidelines more patient-centred. This is done on the assumption that active patient participation will enhance the quality of the guidelines. We found no empirical evidence, however, to support this assumption. Moreover, the studies show that patients experience several difficulties in the participation process, which cannot solely be traced back to flawed practices. Given this poor track record we conclude that the plea to actively involve patients in the guideline development process should be reconsidered.
doi:10.1007/s10728-008-0099-3
PMCID: PMC2725277  PMID: 19101804
Patient participation; Medical guidelines; Patient-centred medicine

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