Role of Law in End-of-Life Decision-Making: Perspectives of Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers and Families

Journal of Law and Medicine, vol. 28, pp. 813-830, 2021

18 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2021

See all articles by Lindy Willmott

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Ben White

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Rachel Feeney

University of Queensland

Cheryl Tilse

University of Queensland

Jill Wilson

University of Queensland

Joanne Aitken

Cancer Council Queensland

Date Written: August 2021

Abstract

The law regulating medical end-of-life decisions aims to support patients to receive high-quality health care. It does so through ensuring treatment received reflects the person’s wishes and values and protecting health professionals who provide adequate pain and symptom relief even if that treatment may coincidentally hasten death. However, good decision-making is predicated by those involved, including patients themselves and those supporting patients, being familiar with the law and the role it plays in the decision-making process. This article reports on a study exploring the role that law plays in end-of-life decision-making from the perspective of terminally-ill patients, their substitute decision-makers and family members. While participants’ decision-making practices were often underpinned by a legal framework, the role of the law was largely invisible. Community education is needed for the public to know their legal rights and responsibilities, and to understand that the law plays a role in supporting end-of-life decision-making.

Note:
Funding Information: This research was supported under the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects Funding scheme (project number: LP 140100883) and contributions from our Industry Partners the Cancer Councils of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria

Declaration of Interests: MISSING

Ethics Approval Statement: Ethics approvals were obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committees at Queensland University of Technology, The University of Queensland, Cancer Councils of New South Wales and Victoria, and UnitingCare Queensland.

Keywords: role of law in end-of-life decision-making; community perspectives; resolving conflict; advance care directives; enduring powers of attorney; end-of-life decision-making; legal literacy; substitute decision-making

JEL Classification: I00, I10, I19, K00, K10, K19, K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Willmott, Lindy and White, Ben and Feeney, Rachel and Tilse, Cheryl and Wilson, Jill and Aitken, Joanne, Role of Law in End-of-Life Decision-Making: Perspectives of Patients, Substitute Decision-Makers and Families (August 2021). Journal of Law and Medicine, vol. 28, pp. 813-830, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3909636 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3909636

Lindy Willmott

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/willmott/

Ben White (Contact Author)

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://staff.qut.edu.au/staff/whiteb/

Rachel Feeney

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Cheryl Tilse

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Jill Wilson

University of Queensland ( email )

St Lucia
Brisbane, Queensland 4072
Australia

Joanne Aitken

Cancer Council Queensland

Brisbane
Australia

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