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Attitudes of Quebec doctors toward sedation at the end of life: An exploratory study

  • Danielle Blondeau (a1), Serge Dumont (a2), Louis Roy (a3) and Isabelle Martineau (a4)



The induction of sedation at the end of life is a much debated practice and not very documented. The goal of this study was to explore the practice from both a clinical and ethical point of view.


Data were collected through semistructured interviews with 19 Quebec physicians working in palliative care.


Doctors' first priority was their patients, not patients' families. Clinically, the therapeutic aim of sedation was strictly to relieve suffering on the part of the patient. Ethically, getting the patient's consent was imperative. The family's consent was only required in cases of incapacity. Generally, sedation and euthanasia were seen as two distinct practices.

Significance of the research:

There are still very few guidelines regarding end-of-life sedation in Québec, and its normative framework is more implicit than explicit. It should be noted that most of the respondents regarded sedation and euthanasia as two distinct practices.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Danielle Blondeau, Faculty of Nursing, Pavillon Ferdinand-Vandry, Université Laval, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada. E-mail:


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