J Neurol. 2014 Sep 2. [Epub ahead of print]
Thinking about the end of life: a common issue for patients with Huntington's disease.
The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of thoughts or wishes for the end of life in patients with Huntington's disease (HD) or identified gene carriers (further mentioned together as patients). A custom-made questionnaire, based on previous qualitative research, was sent out to 242 patients with HD and identified gene carriers. Presence of wishes was investigated and correlated to demographic and clinical characteristics. A total of 134 patients (55 %) returned the questionnaire. 101 respondents (75 %) reported to have some kind of thoughts or wishes for the end of life. For 15 respondents (11 %) these thoughts concerned care; 86 respondents (64 %) reported to have also thoughts about euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The presence of any thoughts about the end of life was significantly related to being familiar with HD in the family, but not related to any other demographic or clinical variable. Participants with thoughts specifically about euthanasia or PAS were of higher education and in earlier stages of the disease than participants without such thoughts. Thoughts or wishes for the end of life are present amongst patients with HD. These thoughts include euthanasia or PAS in a majority of the respondents. It is suggested that prudential addressing of these issues may enhance the doctor-patient relationship.
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