"It's Actually a Little Difficult to Die Today": Nurses' Perceptions of Medical Assistance in Dying for Teenagers at the End of Life in Quebec

Keywords: Perceptions, nurses, oncology, pediatric palliative care, medical assistance in dying, adolescents
Language(s): French


The introduction of medical assistance in dying (MAID) in Quebec and Canada raises the question of extending this service to minors. The constant presence of nurses at the patient's bedside leads them to receive requests related to MAID. The aim of this study is to explore the perceptions of nurses working in paediatric oncology services concerning the possibility for adolescents over 14 years of age requesting MAID. Six nurses working in paediatric oncology or palliative care or in direct contact with adolescents at the end of their lives as part of their nursing work took part in an individual semi-directed interview. The results of this research highlight that: 1) nurses recognise their supportive role in the care of patients at the end of life; 2) most have a professional opinion in favour of the MAID for adults and distinguish this from their personal opinion; 3) they value the discussions around the MAID and are concerned about the establishment of criteria for it; and 4) long experience as a nurse leads to more concerns about the expansion of the MAID, but at the same time makes nurses more comfortable providing information about this subject. In light of these findings, academic and paediatric health care institutions need to recognise and evaluate the need for training nurses on MAID to better equip them to deal with such situations and thus better meet the needs of their patients.

Author Biography

Chantal Caux, Faculté des sciences infirmières, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada

Chantal Caux is a professor at the Faculty of Nursing of the University of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. 

How to Cite
Lepizzera J, Caux C, Leibing A, Gauvin-Lepage J. "It’s Actually a Little Difficult to Die Today": Nurses’ Perceptions of Medical Assistance in Dying for Teenagers at the End of Life in Quebec. Can. J. Bioeth. 2021;4:55-68. https://doi.org/10.7202/1084451ar.