Patient self-determination as a quality indicator in palliative care

Palliative care patients have life-threatening diseases that compromise their quality of life. Nonetheless, they have the same basic rights as all other patients, e.g. the right for self-determination. In clinical settings self-determination means that patients know about their diagnosis, prognosis and treatment options. Palliative care is an important approach that supports patients’ self-determination. Our study aims to analyse and collect self-determination related data from specialized palliative care divisions in three university hospitals in German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland.

The quantitative part (1) focuses on all patients seen during palliative care consultation. A total number of 300 patients’ records are examined. Self-determination related variables are collected including existence and type of Advance Directives. In the qualitative part (2) the admission discussion between 60 patients and their medical doctors are recorded. It consists of analysis of communication strategies about patient’s values and preferences. The mixed quantitative/qualitative part (3) uses an adapted satisfaction questionnaire filled in by the previously interviewed patients to see to which extent their values and preferences have been respected.


Milenko Rakic, M. Sc.

Institute for
Biomedical Ethics

Universität Basel
Bernoullistrasse 28
CH-4056 Basel

Tel. +41 61 207 17 90
Fax +41 61 207 17 80

Research Team

Prof. Dr med. Bernice Elger
Dr phil. Isabelle Wienand
Milenko Rakic, M. Sc.

PhD-Committee of Milenko Rakic

  • Dr phil. Isabelle Wienand (first supervisor), Senior Researcher at the Institute for Biomedical Ethics (IBMB), University of Basel

  • Prof. Dr med. Bernice Elger (second supervisor), Head of the Institute for Biomedical Ethics (IBMB), University of Basel

  • PD Dr med. et Dr. med. dent. Christoph Leiggener (third supervisor), Senior physician at the University Hospital of Basel (USB)

  • Prof. Dr phil. Walter Lesch (external supervisor), Ordinarius for ethics at the University catholique de Louvain (UCL), Faculté de théologie & École de philosophie

Funding by SAMW