Suicide among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
ABSTRACT Studies on the suicide risk among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in countries without legalized euthanasia or assisted suicide are important additions to data on the wish to die of these patients. We conducted a population-based cohort study in Sweden between 1965 and 2004, which comprised of 6,642 patients with incident ALS identified from the Swedish Inpatient Register. We calculated the standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) of suicide among the patients using the suicide rates of the general Swedish population as a reference. In total, 21 patients committed suicide during follow-up, compared to the predicted 3.6 suicides. Thus, we noted an almost 6-fold increased risk for suicide among ALS patients [SMR 5.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.6-8.8]. Patients who committed suicide were, on average, around 7 years younger at the time of their first period of hospitalization than patients who did not commit suicide. The highest relative risk for suicide was observed within the first year after the patient's first period of hospitalization (SMR 11.2, 95% CI 5.8-19.6). After that, the relative risks decreased with time after hospitalization (P-value for trend = 0.006), but remained elevated 3 years later. The relative risks of suicide among ALS patients did not show a clear trend over time in contrast to the decreasing trend of relative risks for suicide among patients with cancer during the same period. Patients with ALS are at excess risk of suicide in Sweden and the relative risk is higher during the earlier stage of the disease.
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ABSTRACT: Background: Few studies have assessed cause of death among patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We investigated underlying cause and place of death among patients with ALS in Taiwan during 2003-2008.Methods: The data source was the Taiwan National Health Insurance database for the period 2003-2008. In total, 751 patients older than 15 years with a primary diagnosis of ALS were included and followed until 2008 in the national mortality database. Crude mortality rates (per 100 person-years) and standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated in relation to cause of death, sex, and age group (15-44, 45-64, 65+ years).Results: In total, 297 (39.6%) patients died during the follow-up period, an age- and sex-standardized mortality rate 13 times (95% CI, 10.6-15.6) that of the Taiwanese general population. The leading cause of death among the patients was respiratory diseases, and the second most frequent cause was cardiovascular diseases. During the first year after an ALS diagnosis, suicide was much more frequent (SMR, 6.9; 95% CI, 1.9-17.6) than among the general population.Conclusions: During 2003-2008, respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases were the most frequent causes of death among Taiwanese patients with ALS. In addition, our findings indicate that suicide prevention is an urgent priority during the period soon after an ALS diagnosis.Journal of Epidemiology 08/2013; 23(6). DOI:10.2188/jea.JE20130045 · 2.86 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objectives: In Switzerland, assisted suicide (AS) is legal, provided that the person seeking assistance has decisional capacity and the person assisting is not motivated by reasons of self-interest. However, in this particular setting nothing is known about patients' and their caregivers' attitudes toward AS and life-prolonging measures. Methods: Data was retrieved through validated questionnaires and personal interviews in 33 patients and their caregivers covering the following domains: physical function according to the revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale (ALSFRS-R), demographic data, quality of life, anxiety, depression, social situation, spirituality, burden of disease, life-prolonging, and life-shortening acts. Results: In patients the median time after diagnosis was 9 months (2-90) and the median Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) FRS-R score was 37 (22-48). The majority of patients (94%; n = 31) had no desire to hasten death. Patients' and caregivers' attitudes toward Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) and Non-Invasive Ventilation (NIV) differed. Significantly more patients than caregivers (21.2 versus 3.1%) stated that they were against NIV (p = 0.049) and against PEG (27.3 versus 3.1%; p = 0.031). Answers regarding tracheotomy were not significantly different (p = 0.139). Caregivers scored significantly higher levels of "suffering" (p = 0.007), "loneliness" (p = 0.006), and "emotional distress" answering the questionnaires (p < 0.001). Suffering (p < 0.026) and loneliness (p < 0.016) were related to the score of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) in patients. Conclusion: A liberal legal setting does not necessarily promote the wish for AS. However, the desire to discuss AS is prevalent in ALS patients. There is a higher level of suffering and loneliness on the caregivers' side. A longitudinal study is warranted.Frontiers in Psychology 10/2012; 3:443. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00443 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background Dying is inescapable yet remains a neglected issue in modern health care. The research question in this study was “what is going on in the field of dying today?” What emerged was to eventually present a grounded theory of control of dying focusing specifically on how people react in relation to issues about euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Methods Classic grounded theory was used to analyze interviews with 55 laypersons and health care professionals in North America and Europe, surveys on attitudes to PAS among physicians and the Swedish general public, and scientific literature, North American discussion forum websites, and news sites. Results Open awareness of the nature and timing of a patient’s death became common in health care during the 1960s in the Western world. Open dying awareness contexts can be seen as the start of a weakening of a taboo towards controlled dying called de-tabooing. The growth of the hospice movement and palliative care, but also the legalization of euthanasia and PAS in the Benelux countries, and PAS in Montana, Oregon and Washington further represents de-tabooing dying control. An attitude positioning between the taboo of dying control and a growing taboo against questioning patient autonomy and self-determination called de-paternalizing is another aspect of de-tabooing. When confronted with a taboo, people first react emotionally based on “gut feelings” - emotional positioning. This is followed by reasoning and label wrestling using euphemisms and dysphemisms - reflective positioning. Rarely is de-tabooing unconditional but enabled by stipulated positioning as in soft laws (palliative care guidelines) and hard laws (euthanasia/PAS legislation). From a global perspective three shapes of dying control emerge. First, suboptimal palliative care in closed awareness contexts seen in Asian, Islamic and Latin cultures, called closed dying. Second, palliative care and sedation therapy, but not euthanasia or PAS, is seen in Europe and North America, called open dying with reversible medical control. Third, palliative care, sedation therapy, and PAS or euthanasia occurs together in the Benelux countries, Oregon, Washington and Montana, called open dying with irreversible medical control. Conclusions De-tabooing dying control is an assumed secular process starting with open awareness contexts of dying half a century ago, and continuing with the growth of the palliative care movement and later euthanasia and PAS legislation.BMC Palliative Care 03/2013; 12(1):13. DOI:10.1186/1472-684X-12-13 · 1.79 Impact Factor