The WeCare Chair provides new insights into how we address the desire to hasten death in Europe
The 9th International Workshop organised by the Chair brought together nearly 200 health experts and professionals in a session that presented the latest scientific evidence on the desire to hasten death as well as the most appropriate tools for assessing the phenomenon in patients with advanced disease.
On 24 February, the latest international workshop was held by the WeCare Chair, in collaboration with Àltima and the Catalan Oncology Institute, under the title “Patients with advanced diseases with a desire to die: lessons learned”. For the second consecutive year, the meeting was held online and was attended by internationally renowned palliative care specialists and nearly 200 healthcare professionals.
Dr Cristina Monforte and Dr Joaquim Julià, directors of the WeCare Chair, were tasked with welcoming the audience members and passing the floor to Dr Andrea Rodriguez, researcher for the WeCare Chair and lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities at UIC Barcelona. During her talk, Dr Rodriguez reviewed the available evidence highlighting that the desire to hasten death is a frequent and reactive phenomenon to patient suffering within a continuous spectrum of a desire to hasten death. She also provided evidence taken from patients’ perspective.
Then, Dr Denise Pergolizzi, psychologist and researcher at the WeCare Chair, presented study data on the frequency and causes of the desire to hasten death in patients with advanced diseases in Europe. The work has been carried out within the framework of the Task Force of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC), which leads the Chair. As Pergolizzi indicated, these data show a wide variability in prevalence among participants from various origins in Europe. She also noted that 56% of study participants assessed a patient in the last month who had expressed a desire to hasten death. The most common causes are emotional and physical factors.
Then, Dr Iris Crespo, lecturer in the area of Psychology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, explained how professionals manage this desire to die in Europe. During her presentation, Crespo showed the results obtained in the study promoted by the Chair through the EPAC Task Force. The researcher stressed that 65% of European professionals do not systematically assess the desire to hasten death, whilst in Spain, this figure is slightly lower, at 60%. At the same time, she pointed out that 60% of European professionals find it difficult to talk to patients about their desire to hasten death, a fact that is also true for 65% of Spanish professionals. On the other hand, the study has shown that 74% of European professionals have not received training on the subject (which drops to 65% among Spanish professionals). Crespo also noted that 69% of professionals in Europe do not have guides on the subject, compared to 72% in Spain.
In the second part of the day, a round table titled “How to evaluate the desire to die? Practical aspects of a case study” was held and moderated by Dr Josep Porta, former head of Palliative Care Services at ICO Hospitalet and ICO Girona, and former director of the WeCare Chair. Two videos of common situations in clinical practice were shown, which gave rise to the round table debate between Dr Miguel Ángel Cuervo, general practitioner and member of the palliative care team at the University Hospital of Badajoz; Dr Maria Nabal, head of the palliative care support team at Arnau University Hospital in Vilanova de Lleida; and Dr Alberto Alonso, coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at La Paz University Hospital in Madrid. The three professionals shared their experiences in dealing with these situations with the participants.
Look at the whole virtual seminar