Press Release: EFIC 2013: Self-concern affects attitudes on Euthanasia
Physicians and nursing staff show relatively high support for euthanasia when asked abstractly whether they would wish it for themselves if they had a lethal illness.However, only a small percentage can imagine being involved in euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide for their own patients.
These were the findings of a German study presented at the EFIC Congress in Florence.A study from Spain arrived at the finding that training for health care professionals must prepare people better for dealing with death.
“Our study shows that approval of euthanasia is relatively high among health care professionals. What is interesting is that this approval increases when individuals are asked what they would want for themselves. If individuals are asked concretely whether they would assist a patient with suicide or would end a patient’s life, the majority said no,” explained Julia Zenz from Ruhr-University Bochum at the Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC in Florence. The expert presented a recent study in which 740 health care professionals were asked about their attitudes toward euthanasia.
They were asked whether physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia should be allowed in the case of a lethal disease or a non-lethal disease. In addition, they were asked: How would you decide if you yourself were the patient involved? Further questions related to whether the health care professionals would also be prepared themselves to carry out these types of actions at the end of the life of one of their patients.
Dr. Zenz: “Overall, the health care professionals polled showed a relatively positive attitude toward euthanasia when asked abstractly, with nurses showing greater support than physicians. When asked concretely whether they themselves would perform these actions on patients, the approval rates fell to below five percent.”
Spanish study:Preparing health care professionals to deal better with dying
“We must prepare health care professionals to deal with dying more effectively as scientists and as human beings so they can provide quality care to patients nearing the end of their life and not seek a solution in a rapid death,” said Dr Pura Rojas from the University of Murcia in Spain at the EFIC Congress presenting her work.
The team of researchers asked a total of 666 students of health sciences at the University of Murcia about their attitudes toward their own dying and death. 46.3% indicated they believed in life after death. The overwhelming majority, 94.2%, said they believed that adequate pain control would help them to die more peacefully. Only one quarter of the students said they themselves would want to have their life artificially prolonged in an intensive care unit.
Source: EFIC Abstract Zenz et al, Attitudes on euthanasia are affected by self-concern; EFIC Abstract Rojas et al, health science students’ attitudes toward pain and dying
EFIC Press Office:
Dr Birgit Kofler
Ph. after the Congress: +43-1-319 43 78-13