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Medical assistance in dying in mental health: A qualitative study of the perspectives of Ontarians with mental health challenges and the family members who care about them.

Researcher bios and how their research backgrounds relate to this study

Dr. Hawke is an Independent Scientist and the Unit Head of the Patient-Oriented Research Unit at the Centre for Complex Interventions, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She conducts research on patient perspectives in mental health, substance use, and health services research. She is currently focusing on research on complex interventions for mental health and substance use. Her research consistently includes patient and family engagement as a core component. By engaging patients and families in her work, alongside research and clinical teams, she aims to produce research that is relevant to a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers, for real-world impact. She strives to attend to gender appropriately in all of her work. She recently co-authored, with a youth team, recommendations that transgender and gender non-binary youth want researchers to follow when considering gender in their studies, as well as a study on the mental health of transgender and gender non-binary youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Purpose of this research project

Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for mental illness has been endorsed by federal legislation. However, a temporary hold has been placed on implementation, pending expert review. Data on the implementation of MAiD for mental illness is critically needed. This qualitative study examines patient and family member perspectives of MAiD for mental illness as sole underlying condition. Individual interviews will be conducted with about 20 to 30 patients and about 20-30 family members to understand their perspectives. A semi-structured interview guide will include general questions, as well as scenarios used to stimulate discussion around the criteria and safeguards that might be put into place for MAiD. Thematic analysis will be used. The patient and family data will be analyzed and reported on separately. Data will also be considered together at the interpretation stage for triangulation.

How this research will help LGBT2SQ people and communities

LGBT2SQ communities have faced unique mental health challenges rooted not only in the social determinants of health, but also in additional systemic factors such as social stigma and discrimination on the basis of their gender identity and sexuality. LGBT2SQ individuals also face additional challenges accessing relevant and responsive mental health supports and services which, in turn, might negatively affect their health outcomes. Given the unique experiences lived by the LGBT2SQ communities, it is important to understand how they perceive an intervention such as MAiD for people requesting it solely due to mental illness.


- Ontario residents living with significant mental health challenges, or
- Ontario residents who have a loved one who is living with significant mental health challenges
- Gender-diverse, racialized, or intersectional individuals are strongly encouraged to participate


Participants are compensated with a $30 e-gift card.

Mitigation measures

The study activities will be conducted by clinically trained staff who will be able to provide support in case of distress. We also have a senior clinician available if additional support is necessary.

Promoting the Study

We are contacting organizations devoted to providing mental health supports and services to a diverse array of communities across the GTA. The general public can also access information about this study by visiting the "find a study" section at

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