Canadian Nursing and Medical Assistance in Dying: Synthesizing Knowledge for Policy and Practice



On June 17, 2016, amendments to the Canadian criminal code (Bill C-14) made it possible for nurse and medical practitioners in Canada to administer or prescribe a substance that results in death for eligible persons. This practice is referred to as medical assistance in dying or MAiD. Under Bill C-14, nurse practitioners may provide MAiD and registered nurses will play key supportive roles. In light of these developments, Canadian nursing policy and regulatory bodies have been working to construct frameworks to support nursing practice in the context of MAiD. This work will continue into the foreseeable future as provinces and territories develop additional legislation and policies. Synthesizing existing knowledge about nursing implications from other countries where MAiD is legal, and gathering empirical evidence about nurses’ experiences as MAiD is implemented in Canada, is critical to informing this ongoing development.

Purpose of the Project

The purpose of this CIHR-funded project (2017-2020) is to conduct a knowledge synthesis of the practice, policy, and ethical implications of MAiD for nursing from:

  1. empirical literature
  2. grey literature, and
  3. primary qualitative work.

In phase one, we will conduct a knowledge synthesis of the literature on nursing and MAiD.

In phase two, we will obtain an in-depth understanding of the distinctive social, moral, practical, and clinical implications of nursing involvement in MAiD in the Canadian context using a qualitative investigation of the experiences of Canadian nurses who have cared for patients receiving MAiD.

In phase three, we will synthesize this knowledge using meta-summary, meta-synthesis, and ethical reflection. Outputs will include practice recommendations, a policy analysis, and ethical resources to support nursing practice.

Project Goals

Evidence from this project will support the development of nursing practice, policy, and research toward the ultimate goal of providing high quality care to Canadians seeking MAiD.

For more information on this work, listen to Dr. Barb Pesut’s interview on Roundhouse Radio’s Middays with Jody Vance