Suzanne Metselaar

DRS., DR., (Principal Investigator)


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Research interests

As an assistant professor, my research interest mainly concerns the ethics of palliative care, i.e. care that focuses on quality of life for people with a life-threatening illness or vulnerability. This also includes many aspects of elderly care and end-of-life care. I study the ethical issues that emerge in these fields,  and how caregivers can be best supported in dealing with them. 


Ethics support in palliative care  

How can caregivers in palliative care be supported in dealing with their moral dilemmas in practice? My two projects within the ‘Palliantie. Meer dan Zorg’-programme of ZonMw revolve around this research question (PhD-project of Malene van Schaik). In the first project (2017-2019) we developed and tested the feasibility of CURA, an ethics support instrument for caregivers in palliative care. In the present project (2019-2022), we study the implementation and evaluate the effectiveness of CURA in ten different palliative care settings. In another study that I led we developed an ethics support tool to deal with diversity issues in elderly care (publications are forthcoming). This is a main topic of the PhD-project of Charlotte Kröger.  


The resilient caregiver   

How to foster the moral competences and (moral) resilience of caregivers in (palliative) care is another research interest. I supervised a translation to Dutch and context validation of a new scale (the RMRS) to measure moral resilience in caregivers.Furthermore, on request of Palliantie/ZonMw, I currently lead a knowledge synthesis on ‘The resilient caregiver in palliative care’, which will result in recommendations for future research on this topic (September 2021). 


Engagement in ethical debates 

As an ethicist, I also focus on normative analysis of topics in – and beyond – my main area of research in order to come to ethical recommendations. For instance, on how to deal with complex physician-assisted-dying requests, or on care for patients who feel like a burden in palliative care. Engaging with international ethical debates, I frequently write commentaries on current topics for the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB & AJOB Neuroscience), one of the top journals in bioethics.   


Philosophical principles of clinical ethics  

Furthermore, having a PhD in philosophy, I am interested in the philosophical principles of clinical ethics. Especially, I publish on Moral Case Deliberation (an approach to clinical ethics support) and its foundations in philosophical pragmatism, dialogical ethics and hermeneutics, often – but not only – in relation to palliative, elderly and end-of-life care. My PhD-student Giulia Inguaggiato is expected to defend her dissertation on the pragmatist foundations of Moral Case Deliberation in 2022. 


Ethics of home care for the elderly 

Another research interest is the ethics of home care for the elderly. In 2021, I started a two-year study on the development of a reflection method for nurses in home care on the use of quality standards (together with Hogeschool Rotterdam, within the ZonMw Quality of Care programme).  Furthermore, a dissertation on measuring quality of life in older adults living at home will be defended on September 17 by Miriam van Loon, whom I co-supervised. I am currently working on proposals for research on the various ethical issues that arise from the fact that elderly people live at home longer and receive more (complex) care at home. 


I diversify my publications, as I have different ‘target groups’ and audiences. They include international peer reviewed articles, commentaries, book chapters (especially for education purposes), and Dutch articles read by Dutch ethicists and caregivers.   



Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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