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Understandings of Advance Decision-Making: an interdisciplinary conference

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Liberty Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

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Keynote speakers

Professor John Ellershaw (Professor of Palliative Medicine, University of Liverpool)

Professor Rob Heywood (Professor of Medical Law, University of East Anglia).


Background

This interdisciplinary conference marks the culmination of the ESRC research seminar series ‘Towards a European understanding of advance decision-making: a comparative, interdisciplinary approach’.

Advance medical decision-making occurs in a range of situations, encompassing decisions relating to end-of-life treatment, typically focussed upon refusals of life-sustaining treatment; advance decisions concerning physical health care unrelated to end of life care, including for example birth plans which typically include positive requests for treatments (e.g. an epidural) as well as refusals of treatment; and ADs relating to psychiatric treatment, where individuals with severe mental illness set out their treatment preferences. In each of these situations an advance decision can act as an important mechanism for conveying precedent autonomy, bridging the occurrence of incapacity and providing a clear statement of how the patient wants to be treated, or more usually what treatment the patient does not wish to be given. Anticipatory decision-making offers great promise and could make a substantial contribution to the empowerment of those lacking capacity, but there are important asymmetries between anticipatory and contemporaneous decision-making that could potentially undermine both the legal and moral authority of an advance decision. The Council of Europe’s Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (1997) requires that account is taken of a patient’s previously expressed wishes (Article 9), demanding at least a minimal consideration of precedent autonomy. A number of European jurisdictions have gone further, seeking to clarify the standing of advance decisions and to promote legal certainty by providing statutory recognition of the importance and binding nature of at least some advance decisions.

The conference will consider European responses to anticipatory decision-making, considering different models of regulation and seeking to explore those responses within the practical contexts within which advance decision-making occurs. We are particularly interested in linking legal discourse with policy and practice discourses and the (dis)connect between law, practice and professional guidance.

The conference is generously funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC).

Call for abstracts

Abstracts for papers of around 20 minutes from stakeholders, practitioners and researchers from all disciplines are invited. Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words to S.Halliday@leeds.ac.uk by 31st May 2017. Applicants should expect to hear from the convenors by 12th June 2017.

Registration

Registration for the conference is free, but compulsory. Numbers are limited and early registration is highly recommended. Bursaries will be available to fund travel and accommodation costs for PhD students – please email S.Halliday@leeds.ac.uk if you wish to apply for financial support.

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