Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Intending, hastening and causing death in non-treatment decisions: a physician interview study
  1. Morten Magelssen,
  2. Sophia Kaushal,
  3. Kalala Ariel Nyembwe
  1. Centre for Medical Ethics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Morten Magelssen, Centre for Medical Ethics, University of Oslo, 1130 Blindern, Oslo N-0318, Norway; magelssen{at}


Purpose To explore how physicians analyse their non-treatment decisions in light of the concepts of hastening, causing and intending the patient's death.

Methods Sixteen Norwegian physicians from relevant specialties were interviewed and the results analysed by systematic text condensation, a qualitative analysis framework.

Results The physicians' chief dilemma in non-treatment decisions was the attempt to achieve the proper balance for the level of treatment at life's end. Respondents framed their challenges in medical and not ethical terms. They treated the concepts of intending, hastening and causing the patient's death as alien to their practical deliberations and, for many, irrelevant to the moral appraisal of their end-of-life practices.

Conclusions The core concepts of traditional medico-ethical analyses of end-of-life decision-making do not map the practical terrain well. Research on physician intentions must be designed and interpreted in light of this.

  • End-of-life
  • Euthanasia
  • Suicide/Assisted Suicide

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.