Nurses’ Behavioral Intentions Toward Euthanasia of Severely Ill Preterm Infants and Neonates

Sophia Dombe, Bernard Barzilay, Silvia Koton, Nili Tabak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Controversy exists regarding whether it is justified to provide treatment to severely preterm infants who are likely to remain severely damaged, including questions about the place of active/passive euthanasia in treatment decisions. The issue is not merely a matter of the long-term prognosis but also of the social values and personal beliefs of both medical staff and parents. This study of Israeli neonatal intensive care nurses explores how their perceptions of local norms on euthanasia, as well as their personal views, affects their intentions to participate in euthanasia. Methods: A sample of 140 neonatal intensive care nurses from six hospitals in Israel completed a questionnaire specifically developed for this study and informed by Ajzen and Fishbein's Theory of Reasoned Action. Results: The results show a strong positive correlation between the nurses’ attitudes to euthanasia in its different forms and their behavioral intentions (explaining 61% of the variance in their intentions). Their perceptions of local social/collegial norms were a significant but smaller factor. The nurses found current Israeli legislation on the issue unhelpful and wanted their decision making eased by more relevant laws and regulations. Conclusions: One of the most important results of this study was that it found no difference between nurses’ attitudes to active and passive euthanasia. That nurses’ individual beliefs about life and death are more important than legislative obligations when considering euthanasia may help us understand the disparities between the positions and policies of countries and societies on infant euthanasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-50
Number of pages8
JournalAJOB Empirical Bioethics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2015


  • adverse prognosis
  • euthanasia
  • neonatal intensive care nurse
  • nurse attitudes
  • preterm infant and neonate


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