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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Palliative Care 1/2015

The prevalence in the general population of advance directives on euthanasia and discussion of end-of-life wishes: a nationwide survey

BMC Palliative Care > Ausgabe 1/2015
Aline De Vleminck, Koen Pardon, Dirk Houttekier, Lieve Van den Block, Robert Vander Stichele, Luc Deliens
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

ADV carried out the statistical analysis, the interpretation of the results and drafted the manuscript. LVD and LD were involved in the design of the study. KP, DH, LVD, RVS and LD critically revised the manuscript content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



To determine the extent to which members of the general population have talked to their physician about their wishes regarding medical treatment at the end of life, to describe the prevalence of advance directives on euthanasia, and to identify associated factors.


This study used data from the cross-sectional Health Interview Study (HIS) 2008 that collected data from a representative sample (N = 9651) of the Belgian population.


Of all respondents, 4.4 % had spoken to their physician about their wishes regarding medical treatment at the end of life, while 1.8 % had an advance directive on euthanasia. Factors positively associated with discussions regarding wishes for medical treatment at the end of life were being female, being older in age, having poorer health status and having more GP contacts. People older than 55 years and living in Flanders or Brussels were more likely than the youngest age categories to have an advance directive on euthanasia.


Younger people, men, people living in the Walloon region of Belgium, people without a longstanding illness, chronic condition or disability and people with few GP contacts could represent a target group for education regarding advance care planning. Public information campaigns and education of physicians may help to enable the public and physicians to engage more in advance care planning.
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