Publication date

Waarom stijgt het aantal euthanasieverzoeken?

Heins, M.J., Donker, G., Versteeg, S., Korevaar, J. Waarom stijgt het aantal euthanasieverzoeken? Huisarts en Wetenschap: 2020, 63(3), p. 23-26.
Download the PDF
The number of requests for euthanasia has increased since the Termination of Life on Request and Assisted Suicide (Review Procedures) Act entered into force. The Nivel investigated the underlying reasons for this.

Relevant scientific articles and reports from the Netherlands and Belgium from 2003-2019 were analysed.

A potential explanation is the ageing population: the number of older individuals has increased and hence also the number of requests for euthanasia. Moreover, a higher proportion of older individuals are requesting euthanasia and more requests are approved than in the past. A second explanation is the growing acceptance of euthanasia among the Dutch population: in 2002 12% of the Dutch population was against euthanasia, in 2016 only 5%. A third explanation is the greater involvement of general practitioners in end-of-life care, the increased willingness to comply with a request for euthanasia, and increased possibilities for doctors who are unwilling or unable to perform euthanasia to refer patients to other doctors. Lastly, in recent years more patients die of cancer than of cardiovascular causes, and cancer is a common reason to request euthanasia, whereas cardiovascular disorders are not.

The increase in the number of requests for euthanasia over the last 15 years is due to a combination of factors.