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Study Finds Parents of Terminally Ill May Consider Hastening Death

Thirteen percent of parents with cancer-stricken children consider requesting hastened death

TUESDAY, March 2 (HealthDay News) -- More than one of every eight parents of children with terminal cancer has considered hastening the death of their child, according to a study published in the March issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Veronica Dussel, M.D., of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional survey of 141 parents of children who died of cancer.

The researchers found that 13 percent of respondents considered requesting hastened death for their child, that 9 percent discussed hastening death, and that an increase in the child's suffering from pain was associated with an increased likelihood of considering hastened death. They also found that 34 percent of parents retrospectively reported that they would have considered hastening their child's death in the event of uncontrollable pain, compared to 15 percent or less who would have considered it for nonphysical suffering.

"In the context of a hastening death discussion, identifying sources of suffering and clearly explaining effective and legal options, including proportionately intensive symptom management, may ease parents' considerations of hastening their child's death," the authors conclude.

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