Most studies on euthanasia fail to explain the intentions of health professionals when faced with performing euthanasia and are atheoretical.Research objective:
The purpose of this study was to identify the psychosocial determinants of nurses' intention to practise euthanasia in palliative care if it were legalised.Research design:
A cross-sectional study using a validated anonymous questionnaire based on an extended version of the Theory of Planned Behaviour.Participants and research context:
A random sample of 445 nurses from the province of Quebec, Canada, was selected for participation in the study.Ethical considerations:
The study was reviewed and approved by the Ethics Committee of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec.Findings:
The response rate was 44.2% and the mean score for intention was 4.61 ± 1.90 (range: 1-7). The determinants of intention were the subjective (odds ratio = 3.08; 95% confidence interval: 1.50-6.35) and moral (odds ratio = 2.95; 95% confidence interval: 1.58-5.49) norms. Specific beliefs which could discriminate nurses according to their level of intention were identified.Discussion:
Overall, nurses have a slightly positive intention to practise euthanasia. Their family approval seems particularly important and also the approval of their medical colleagues. Nurses' moral norm was related to beneficence, an ethical principle.Conclusion:
To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify nurses' motivations to practise euthanasia in palliative care using a validated psychosocial theory. It also has the distinction of identifying the ethical principles underlying nurses' moral norm and intention.