Anticipated impacts of voluntary assisted dying legislation on nursing practice

Jessica Tamar Snir1

1The University of Melbourne (Melbourne School of Population and Global Health), Melbourne, Australia

Background: The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 passed into law in Victoria, Australia, on the 29th November 2017. Internationally, nurses have been shown to be intimately involved in patient care throughout the voluntary assisted dying (VAD) process. However, there is a paucity of research exploring Australian nurses’ perspectives on VAD and, in particular, how Victorian nurses anticipate the implementation of this ethically controversial legislation will impact their professional lives.

Objectives: To explore Victorian nurses’ expectations of the ethical and practical impacts the VAD legislation will have on their professional lives.

Research design: This qualitative study analysed nurses’ free text responses collected as part of a larger mixed methods online survey investigating staff views on VAD. Data was collected during the period between the passing of the VAD and the start date and was analysed using inductive content analysis.

Participants and research context: Free text survey responses were analysed from 1873 nurses employed across seven Victorian health services located in both metropolitan and regional areas of the state.

Findings: This study identified three broad areas of Victorian nurses’ professional lives that they expected to be impacted by the implementation of VAD: professional identity, career development, and workplace relationships.

Conclusion: Participants anticipate diverse and nursing-specific impacts of the implementation of VAD in Victoria. Their insights can inform health services in jurisdictions considering or already implementing VAD, to develop policies, procedures and staff training programs that safeguard the wellbeing and legal rights of their nursing staff.


Bio to come.

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