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Health Policy. 2012 Mar;104(3):272-8. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.12.001. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Implementation of a service for physicians' consultation and information in euthanasia requests in Belgium.

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End-of-Life Care Research Group Ghent University & Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Laarbeeklaan 103, Brussels, Belgium.



To study the implementation of LEIF, the consultation service which provides access to specially trained physicians to act as the legally required second physician in requests for euthanasia in Flanders and Brussels, Belgium, the use of which has been to shown to be beneficial to the careful practice of euthanasia.


A representative sample of 3006 Belgian physicians from the area where LEIF is active received a questionnaire investigating their attitude and practice regarding euthanasia, asking about their knowledge of LEIF, their attitude towards the service, their use of the service and their intentions regarding its future use.


Seventy-eight per cent of physicians knew about the existence of the organization, 90% felt supported by the idea of being able to consult a LEIF physician and 90% intended to use LEIF in the future. Only 35% of those who had received a euthanasia request since LEIF became active had made use of LEIF. Awareness, use and intended use of LEIF were lower among specific groups of physicians (e.g. specialists). Positive attitudes towards consultation and training were positively associated with future use of LEIF.


Implementation can be considered successful but LEIF should continue promoting its services as widely as possible, with specific attention paid to specialists.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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