Table 1

Legal and ethical themes emerging from interviews with doctors

Main themeSubthemes
Theoretical knowledge of ethics and the lawIs withdrawal ethical and legal
Is it unethical or illegal not to withdraw
Under what circumstances is it legal and ethical to withdraw
What if patient is not close to death
Ethical and legal practiceExperience and knowledge
Discussions of ethics and the law with colleagues, patients and families, including disagreements.
Palliation of symptoms—what is legal
External scrutiny, the need to document practice and work in teams for legal security
Protecting the family ethically, morally and legally
Does withdrawal feel ethical and moralFelt right
Felt uncomfortable or wrong
Fear of misinterpretation as assisted death
Ethical and moral burden
Ethical and legal recommendationsNeed for legal and ethical guidance
Need for professional education