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Table 2 Demographic, clinical and decision-making characteristics of officially reported cases of euthanasia with a diagnosis of psychiatric disorder or dementia, 2002–2013 (n = 179)

From: Euthanasia for people with psychiatric disorders or dementia in Belgium: analysis of officially reported cases

  Mood disorder No. (%) Mood disorder accompanied by another psychiatric disorder No. (%) Other psychiatric disorder No. (%) Dementia No. (%)
No. (row %) 83 (46.4) 12 (6.7) 22 (12.3) 62 (34.6)
Demographic characteristics
 Sex
  Male 19 (22.9) 3 (25.0) 7 (31.8) 26 (41.9)
  Female 64 (77.1) 9 (75.0) 15 (68.2) 36 (58.1)
 Age
  18–59 29 (34.9) 10 (83.3) 19 (86.4) 4 (6.5)
  60–79 22 (26.5) 2 (16.7) 2 (9.1) 33 (53.2)
  80 or older 32 (38.6) 0 (0.0) 1 (4.5) 25 (40.3)
Clinical characteristics
 Place of death
  Hospital 14 (16.9) 4 (33.3) 6 (27.3) 22 (35.5)
  Home 43 (51.8) 7 (58.3) 13 (59.1) 29 (46.8)
  Nursing home 23 (27.7) 0 (0.0) 1 (4.5) 10 (16.1)
  Other 3 (3.6) 1 (8.3) 2 (9.1) 1 (1.6)
Patient was expected to die in the foreseeable future 7 (8.4) 0 (0.0) 4 (18.2) 17 (27.4)
 Reported suffering a
  Physical and psychological suffering 23 (27.7) 2 (16.7) 5 (22.7) 24 (38.7)
  Only physical suffering 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 3 (4.8)
  Only psychological suffering 60 (72.3) 10 (83.3) 17 (77.3) 35 (56.5)
Decision-making characteristics
 Type of request for euthanasia
  Current request 83 (100) 12 (100) 22 (100) 54 (87.1)
  Advance euthanasia directive b 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 8 (12.9)
 Specialty of second physician c
  Specialist palliative care physician 5 (6.0) 0 (0.0) 3 (13.6) 1 (1.6)
  General practitioner 57 (68.7) 6 (50.0) 13 (59.1) 40 (64.5)
  Specialist in the illness from which the patient suffers 21 (25.3) 6 (50.0) 6 (27.3) 21 (33.9)
 Specialty of third physician if required (N = 151) d
  Psychiatrist 66 (86.8) 12 (100) 18 (100) 34 (75.6)
  Specialist in the illness from which the patient suffers 10 (13.2) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0) 11 (24.4)
 Consultations about the request beyond legal requirements
  One or more consultations 39 (47.0) 8 (66.7) 14 (63.6) 19 (30.6)
  Of which with palliative care team(s) 18 (21.7) 3 (25.0) 5 (22.7) 6 (9.7)
  Of which with additional physician(s) 26 (31.3) 8 (66.7) 11 (50.0) 16 (25.8)
  1. Data presented are absolute numbers and column percentages
  2. aNature of the constant and unbearable suffering that led to euthanasia
  3. bEuthanasia based on an advance euthanasia directive is only possible if the patient is in an irreversible coma
  4. cThe attending physician must consult a second independent physician about the serious and incurable nature of the disorder
  5. dBelgian law distinguishes between those who are expected to die in the foreseeable future and those who are not expected to die in the foreseeable future. A third physician must be consulted if the patient is not expected to die in the foreseeable future. This physician should either be a psychiatrist or a specialist in the illness from which the patient suffers