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Impact of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) on family caregivers
  1. Rachel Goldberg1,2,
  2. Rinat Nissim1,2,3,
  3. Ekaterina An1 and
  4. Sarah Hales1,2,3
  1. 1 Supportive Care, Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Centre for Mental Health, University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sarah Hales, Department of Supportive Care, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network, Toronto, ON M5G 2M9, Canada; sarah.hales{at}uhn.ca

Abstract

Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) is a globally polarising topic which often sparks debate surrounding the ethical and moral dilemmas that arise with a life-ending intervention. To gain a better understanding of this intervention, it is important to explore the experience of those most intimately affected by MAiD. Family caregivers of those with a terminal illness are the backbone of the healthcare and support team, often providing a substantial amount of informal care while at the same time coping with their own distress and anticipatory grief. However, we know the least about how MAiD impacts the psychosocial well-being of these same individuals. The aim of this article is to explore the experience of MAiD from the family caregiver perspective, namely their beliefs and opinions about the intervention, how the process of MAiD impacts them, how the intervention shapes their view of their loved one’s quality of death, and the psychosocial outcomes after the passing of their loved one. Beyond the literature, challenges within both the clinical and research realms will be discussed and future directions will be offered. While MAiD is currently legal in only a small number of countries, a better understanding of the impact of MAiD will help inform policy and legislation as they are developed in other jurisdictions. Further, this article aims to inform future research and clinical interventions in order to better understand and support those seeking MAiD and their families.

  • Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD)
  • medically-assisted death
  • physician-assisted suicide
  • voluntary euthanasia
  • family caregiver
  • end-of-life
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Footnotes

  • Contributors Literature search and review: RG. Manuscript writing: all authors. Final approval of the manuscript: all authors.

  • Funding This work was supported in part by the Comprehensive Research Experience for Medical Students (CREMS) Program at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Cancer Society (Grant #705663, February 2018–2021 [SH and RN]).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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