palliative care forschung schweiz

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Titel / Thema

Projekt VARIED: “Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking “(VSED) at the end of life in Switzerland from different points of view


02.2016 – 08.2018


BACKGROUND: “To die with dignity” has reached the significance of a core value in democratic societies. Based on this unconditional value, people require autonomy and care. „Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking“ (VSED) represents an alternative to assisted suicide as no one else is involved in the action of death fastening – even though from outside it might be considered as an extreme form of passive euthanasia. However, there are no data available about prevalence and frequency of either the explicit VSED nor the implicit reduction of food and liquid (V)SED in Switzerland. The responsible and independent ethics committee of the Greater Region of Eastern Switzerland (EKOS 17/083) approved this study.
AIMS: To research the prevalence and frequency of different types (implicit – explicit) of VSED in Switzerland. Furthermore, to explore the experiences, attitudes, handling and recommendations made by general practitioners and nurses in outpatient care and long-term care. To develop a practical recommendation about VSED, which afterwards experts will validate in Delphi-rounds.
FINDINGS: A cross-sectional representative trilingual survey (German, French, and Italian) of general practitioners and nurses in outpatient care and long-term care is carried out. This allows us to obtain a comprehensive image of VSED in Switzerland. Upon completion of the survey, a practical recommendation is derived, which is validated by experts in Delphi rounds.
DISCUSSION: The results of this study will provide important knowledge on the prevalence and frequency of VSED as well as the interpretation of the professionals on VSED. Furthermore, based on this knowledge practical recommendation will be developed. This will help professionals and institutions to improve quality of care in patients and their relatives who made the decision to fasten death by VSED.


Medizin, Pflegewissenschaften


University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen, Institute of Applied Nursing Science


Prof. Dr. André Fringer, MScN


University Witten/Herdecke, Dialog Ethic, Cantonal Hospital St.Gallen


This research is sponsored by the funding programme “Research in Palliative Care” of the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences (SAMW), supported by Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation and the Gottfried and Julia Bangerter-Rhyner Stiftung.

Keywords (in english)

Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking, VSED, questionnaire, cross sectional study, practical recommendation


Fehn, S., Mezger, M., Büche, D., Schnepp, W., & Fringer, A. (under revision). «Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking» (VSED) in Switzerland from different points of view. BMC palliative care(RESN-D-17-00087). 
Fehn, S., Schnepp, W., Mezger, M., Büche, D., & Fringer, A. (under revision). Prevalence, Frequency, Experiences and Attitudes of Explicit and Implicit (Voluntary) Stopping of Eating and Drinking (V)SED in Switzerland – Development, Testing and Translation of a Questionnaire. BMC palliative care(PCAR-D-17-00057). 


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