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End-of-life care practices and attitudes in Europe are highly diverse, which is unsurprising given the variety of cultural and religious patterns across this region. The most marked differences are in the legal and ethical stances towards assisted dying, although there are also variations in limitation of life-sustaining treatment and the authority of advance directives to decline such treatment. Palliative care has made a rapid and impressive development in many European countries over the last decade, and alleviating symptoms at the end of life is permitted, even if the drugs used might (in the rare case) not only relieve suffering but also shorten life. Fueled by the politically led process of European harmonization, future policies and laws on end-of-life care might converge. However, at the base of many ethical conflicts there remain deeply rooted differences about promoting the sanctity of life, eradicating suffering, and respecting patients' autonomous wishes.

Original publication




Journal article


Handb Clin Neurol

Publication Date





155 - 165


assisted suicide, end-of-life decisions, ethics, euthanasia, law, palliative care, value of life, withdrawing and withholding life-sustaining treatment, Europe, Humans, Palliative Care, Terminal Care, Withholding Treatment