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Abstracts from the Association of British Neurologists Annual Meeting 2011
127 Attitudes towards end of life issues among people with MS: a 360 survey
  1. M Brothwell,
  2. G Giovannoni,
  3. J Spink
  1. Barking and Havering NHS Trust, Barts and The London NHS Trust, QMUL, UK
  2. MS Society, UK

In the light of increasing media coverage, we sought to explore the attitudes towards end of life issues among people with MS (n=83, 84% from UK) and MND (n=117, 45% from UK) via online surveys posted on the websites including the MS Society website and MND chat-sites.

Advance decisions 10/82 (12%) PwMS and 57/76 (75%) PwMND had written an advance decision. 36/71 (51%) PwMS wanted more information.

Mood 16/47 (34%) PwMS and 24/47 (51%) PwMND had considered suicide since their diagnosis. 30/47 (64%) PwMS and 49/75 (65%) PwMND would like the healthcare team to ask about their mood.

Assisted suicide and dying 72/83 (77%) PwMS and 64/75 (85%) PwMND believed in the right to choose how and when we die. 64/83 (77%) PwMS and 53/75 (71%) PwMND believed that assisted suicide should be legalised in their country. 25/80 (31%) PwMS and 16/74 (22%) PwMND had considered going abroad for assisted suicide.

Communication and the doctor–patient relationship 5/76 (7%) PwMS and 32/74 (43%) PwMND had discussed such issues with a doctor or nurse. 16/77 (21%) PwMS and 38/72 (53%) PwMND wished to do so. 51% of both PwMS and PwMND considered it not a problem if their clinician was involved in assisted suicide. A further 28% PwMS and 21% PwMND felt it would not affect the treatment of their condition. The results highlight a need for better patient education and openness about end of life options, including advance decisions, and a greater exploration of these issues on a wider scale.

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  • Email: moragbrothwell{at}