Date of Completion of Thesis/SIP

Spring 5-2-2020

Document Type

Scholarly Inquiry Paper (SIP)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



First Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Langer


Introduction: Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) is an end of life (EOL) option that involves a patient ingesting a lethal medication that has been prescribed by a physician after a complex vetting process. In certain countries and states within the United States (US) where PAS is legal, patients avoid EOL suffering and may have more control over the dying process.

Scholarly Inquiry Question: Do patients who seek end-of-life care by means of PAS have a greater sense of control of their dying process versus those patients who do not or are not allowed to participate in PAS?

Supporting Evidence: Physical and emotional suffering are significant motivators for terminally ill patients to desire PAS (Nissim et al., 2009; Johansen et al., 2005; Maessen et al., 2009; Regan et al.). Through PAS, patients are also able to control the circumstances of their death, including the time of death, location, rituals, and individuals present (Maessen et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2011). Healthcare providers play a critical role in treating terminally-ill patients and upholding patient autonomy; non-judgmental and timely communication are the foundation for discussing PAS (Georges et al., 2007; Pasman et al., 2013). Suffering while dying is subjective (Dees et al., 2010); PAS is an EOL option that upholds the ethical principle of autonomy(Nissim et al., 2009).

Theory and Conceptual Framework: The Theory of Relational Autonomy was used to guide this integrative literature review. The goal of this theory is to build social relationships and institutions that encourage individuals to lead self-governing lives (Mackenzie, 2015).

Conclusions: Terminal illness is life-altering. PAS contributes to a better quality of death and upholds patient autonomy by allowing the patient to die on their own terms: deciding who is present, where and when their death will take place, and ultimately ending the process of painful and undignified lingering.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.