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End of life in Europe: an overview of medical practices


  • Johan Bilsen
  • Joachim Cohen
  • Luc Deliens


Physicians are increasingly faced with medical decisions liable to hasten the death of very old patients. According to the Eureld survey conducted in six EEuropean countries, medical decisions of this type occur in between a quarter and a half of deaths. In most cases, they concern potentially life-shortening pain and symptom alleviation (19% of all deaths in Italy, 26% in Denmark). Medical decisions with the explicit intention of hastening the patient's death concern between 2% (Italy) and 21% (Switzerland) of deaths. They consist in withholding or withdrawing treatment, or administering or prescribing lethal drugs. Active euthanasia by administration of lethal drugs is rare.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Bilsen & Joachim Cohen & Luc Deliens, 2007. "End of life in Europe: an overview of medical practices," Population and Societies 430, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
  • Handle: RePEc:idg:posoce:430

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