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1.  Expert opinion on detecting and treating depression in palliative care: A Delphi study 
BMC Palliative Care  2011;10:10.
There is a dearth of data regarding the optimal method of detecting and treating depression in palliative care. This study applied the Delphi method to evaluate expert opinion on choice of screening tool, choice of antidepressant and choice of psychological therapy. The aim was to inform the development of best practice recommendations for the European Palliative Care Research Collaborative clinical practice guideline on managing depression in palliative care.
18 members of an international, multi-professional expert group completed a structured questionnaire in two rounds, rating their agreement with proposed items on a scale from 0-10 and annotating with additional comments. The median and range were calculated to give a statistical average of the experts' ratings.
There was contention regarding the benefits of screening, with 'routine informal asking' (median 8.5 (0-10)) rated more highly than formal screening tools such as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (median 7.0 (1-10). Mirtazapine (median 9 (7-10) and citalopram (median 9 (5-10) were the considered the best choice of antidepressant and cognitive behavioural therapy (median 9.0 (3-10) the best choice of psychological therapy.
The range of expert ratings was broad, indicating discordance in the views of experts. Direct comparative data from randomised controlled trials are needed to strengthen the evidence-base and achieve clarity on how best to detect and treat depression in this setting.
PMCID: PMC3125275  PMID: 21619580
2.  Survey of doctors' opinions of the legalisation of physician assisted suicide 
BMC Medical Ethics  2009;10:2.
Assisted dying has wide support among the general population but there is evidence that those providing care for the dying may be less supportive. Senior doctors would be involved in implementing the proposed change in the law. We aimed to measure support for legalising physician assisted dying in a representative sample of senior doctors in England and Wales, and to assess any association between doctors' characteristics and level of support for a change in the law.
We conducted a postal survey of 1000 consultants and general practitioners randomly selected from a commercially available database. The main outcome of interest was level of agreement with any change in the law to allow physician assisted suicide.
The corrected participation rate was 50%. We analysed 372 questionnaires. Respondents' views were divided: 39% were in favour of a change to the law to allow assisted suicide, 49% opposed a change and 12% neither agreed nor disagreed. Doctors who reported caring for the dying were less likely to support a change in the law. Religious belief was also associated with opposition. Gender, specialty and years in post had no significant effect.
More senior doctors in England and Wales oppose any step towards the legalisation of assisted dying than support this. Doctors who care for the dying were more opposed. This has implications for the ease of implementation of recently proposed legislation.
PMCID: PMC2673229  PMID: 19261197

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