Ethics of palliative care in intensive care units

November 8, 2023

Research context

The Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law (Department of Public Health and Primary Care, KU Leuven) is looking for a PhD student to conduct research on the ethics of telepalliative care in intensive care units (ICU). The project is part of the EU funded project ‘Enhancing palliative care in ICU’ (EPIC).

The Centre for Biomedical Ethics at KU Leuven ( is an interdisciplinary research centre that analyzes ethical, legal, and societal questions regarding biomedicine and healthcare. The research groups collaborate closely with researchers from KU Leuven and UZ Leuven, as well as with various external partners such as healthcare providers, patient organizations, umbrella organizations of healthcare institutions, governmental representatives at national, European, and international levels. Staff members publish research in international academic journals, participate in national and international research projects, disseminate their findings through participation in national and international conferences, and are involved in providing advice to academic and professional organizations.


The EPIC project aims to sustainably improve care for critically ill patients and their families in the ICU. An interdisciplinary consortium collaborates to provide a novel harmonized palliative care model using telemedicine. The vision of EPIC is to contribute to a mind shift from a narrow focus on prolonging life towards more holistic care in ICU.

This specified advertised PhD research project aims to develop an ethical framework to evaluate the use of telepalliative care in ICU. The sub-aims of this project are (1) to analyze the main ethical concepts used in the debate on the use of telecare in palliative care settings and the arguments built on these concepts; (2) to understand what citizens (general public, relatives of palliative patients, etc.) perceive as ethical issues in the use of telepalliative care in ICU; (3) to ethically evaluate the use of telepalliative care in ICU; (4) and to formulate ethical recommendations that can guide the use of telepalliative care in ICU.


  • You will conduct research (literature review, qualitative study, ethical analysis) in the described research domain. This research aims to lead to a doctoral degree (PhD).
  • You have completed a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Theology, Bioethics, Medicine, Nursing, Social Sciences, Psychology or another relevant discipline.
  • You can present very good study results.
  • You write and speak English fluently and preferably also Dutch (for the qualitative study)
  • You are enthusiastic, ambitious, dynamic, and open to challenges.
  • You have good organizational skills and can work independently.
  • You can work in an international multidisciplinary team.
  • You will contribute to collective activities of the research group (such as educational services, conferences, etc.)
  • You have not yet worked in the status of doctoral grantee.



We offer a fulltime doctoral fellowship for the period of min. 1 year. After positive evaluation, the fellowship will be renewed (total duration: 4 years). The research will take place at the Centre for Biomedical Ethics and Law, KU Leuven under the supervision of Professor Chris Gastmans.

The start date will be determined in consultation with the candidate with the ambition to start no later than 1 March 2024.


For more information please contact Prof. Dr. Chris Gastmans, mail: Tel.: +32 16 37 33 03

You can apply for this job no later than December 4, 2023.