Shaping Experiences: Exploring the Impact of Legislation, Policy, and Programs on Family Members of MAID Recipients

Date

2024-01-05

Authors

Powell, Tracy L.

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Abstract

Published literature on family members’ experiences with assisted dying is minimal, with only a limited number of studies exploring the perspectives of bereaved family members. Studies have shown family members can play a significant role in assisted dying. My study aimed to understand the experiences of bereaved family members who have had a loved one receive medical assistance in dying (MAID) and describe how MAID implementation, policy, and processes in two different settings in Canada influenced these experiences. The study used interpretive description, a qualitative research methodology framed by the theoretical lens of relational ethics. A total of 31 family members and 15 key informant participants took part in the study. The analysis of the data identified three descriptive themes: (a) they want MAID, now what, (b) prepared but maybe not ready, and (c) evolving understanding of this type of death, with associated subthemes that revealed the complex and layered experience of family members whose loved one received MAID. Study findings also revealed the experience of family members was influenced not only by individual-level factors but also by meso-level factors, including programs, processes, policy, and macro-level elements, including MAID legislation. These elements did not operate in isolation; instead, they interconnected to influence family members. Based on study findings, recommendations focus on policy, practice, and education, as well as future research and propose options to address the elements that affect the experiences of bereaved family members of MAID recipients.

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Keywords

family members, experiences, bereaved, assisted death, medical assistance in dying, qualitative research, palliative care

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