Israeli dying patient act physician knowledge and attitudes

Dana Doron, Isaiah D. Wexler, Esther Shabtai, Benjamin W. Corn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: The recently enacted Israeli Dying Patient Act was designed to strike balance between enhancing patient autonomy in endof- life decision making and cultural/religious norms that are in opposition to active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The current study evaluated physician attitudes regarding active and passive euthanasia, and their knowledge of specific aspects of the law.

Methods: A survey was administered to a convenience sample of hospital-based physicians treating terminal patients. Physicians were queried about their attitudes regarding euthanasia and PAS. Physicians were also queried about specific aspects of the law and whether they had sufficient resources to uphold the law.

Results: Surveys were distributed to 270 physicians and 100 were returned and evaluated (37%). Nearly all physicians supported passive euthanasia (withholding treatment), whereas over 40% maintained that active forms of euthanasia should be allowed for terminal patients in severe physical pain. Multivariate analysis showed a negative relationship between support for more active forms of euthanasia and physicians' self-reported religiosity. Physicians cited lack of time as a reason for not complying with the new law. Physicians had a familiarity with the general aspects of the new legislation, but a large proportion was not aware of the specifics of the law.

Conclusions: Compared with previous surveys, a larger number of physicians support passive euthanasia. A sizable percentage of physicians would be willing to participate in active euthanasia and even PAS. Attitudes toward euthanasia are influenced by religious factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-602
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Volume37
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Active euthanasia
  • End of life
  • Passive euthanasia
  • Physician-associated suicide

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