Polarization in public attitudes toward end-of-life decisions in Israel - A cross-sectional study

Moran Bodas*, Arnona Ziv, Carmit Rubin, Bernice Oberman, Yoel Tawil, Adir Shaulov, Giora Kaplan, Baruch Velan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives End-of-life (EoL) processes are a complex socio-normative and ethical phenomenon. This study aimed to generate a database of public opinion in Israel concerning EoL processes and decisions and to identify differences in attitudes across subgroups in the population, particularly based on experience as a family caregiver of a dying patient. Methods This cross-sectional study was performed in late March 2022. The study utilized an online sample of 605 adults over the age of 50 including those who accompanied a loved one to their death in the last 3 years. Participants were requested to provide their opinions and attitudes on several aspects of EoL decisions, including truth-telling, medically assisted dying, EoL procedures, pre-death actions, and family caregivers' engagement. Results While only 27% and 30% of participants support artificial respiration or feeding (respectively) of terminally ill patients, 66% support analgesic treatment, even at the risk of shortening life. The data show an association between religiosity and agreement with life-extending procedures. For example, while 83% of seculars support medically assisted dying, only 59% and 26% of traditional and religious respondents support it. However, no statistically significant differences were observed in support of family involvement in EoL process in any sociodemographic variable. Significance of results The results of this study suggest that the Israeli public is relatively polarized on several issues about EoL processes, specifically patient autonomy and medically assisted dying. Yet, at the same time, there is a consensus among the Israeli public about certain EoL elements, particularly the importance of family caregivers in the EoL decision-making process.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • Attitudes
  • End-of-life processes
  • Family caregivers
  • Public policy

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