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Attitudes of Nurses Toward Patient-Directed Dying: A Pilot Study

DeWolf Bosek, Marcia Sue DNSc, RN; Jannette, Jessica MS, ANP-BC; Rambur, Betty PhD, RN

JONA's Healthcare Law, Ethics, and Regulation: October/December 2013 - Volume 15 - Issue 4 - p 135–139
doi: 10.1097/NHL.0000000000000017

Patient-directed dying (PDD) will be an increasingly common issue faced by healthcare professionals. Nevertheless, few studies have explored nurses’ attitudes toward PDD. This pilot project sets out to fill the gap regarding nurses’ attitudes and values regarding PDD and perceptions of consistency or inconsistency with the American Nurses Association (2001) Code of Ethics for Nurses With Interpretive Statements (The Code). Thirteen subjects self-selected from a population of registrants attending a national ethics conference by completing an anonymous descriptive survey. The majority of subjects noted that their personal and professional values related to PDD are in agreement (regardless of their specific position). The subjects were divided on whether PDD is ethically consistent with The Code. Despite being unsure if PDD is ethically consistent with The Code, these nurses found relief of suffering to be a more compelling rationale for PDD over patient autonomy. This study offers insight into key social and professional issues in which further research is needed and offers many avenues for further investigation.

Author Affiliations: Department of Nursing, The University of Vermont, Burlington.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

Correspondence: Marcia Sue DeWolf Bosek, DNSc, RN, Department of Nursing, The University of Vermont, 216 Rowell Bldg, 106 Carrigan Dr, Burlington, VT 05405 (

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins