Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name





Kathy Pfaff




Changing international legislation is challenging views about the ethics of assisted dying and palliative care. In 2016, assisted death was decriminalized in Canada and termed, Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD). In the midst of this happening, Canadian palliative care nurses began the process of trying to make sense of new rules, scope of practice, government regulations related to MAiD, and its fit with the philosophy of palliative care which seeks to not hasten death. Limited Canadian studies have explored nurse experiences with assisted dying, and even fewer were completed after the legalization of MAiD. The international literature indicates that nurses who are involved in assisted death experience emotional and/or ethical distress. While provisions for conscientious objection is available for Canadian nurses, it is not known how palliative care nurses experience the ethical decisions associated with MAiD. This study explored the ethical decision-making experiences of Ontario palliative care nurses related to MAiD. The study findings highlight patient autonomy as the foundational principle upon which palliative care nurses make decisions. Additional education, support, and ethical decision-making training for palliative care nurses related to MAiD is emphasized.