Bioethics Blogs

Increasing Physician Support for PAS

Just reporting this week…I will leave it to readers to comment beyond my brief comments here…

Just before Christmas, my email inbox included a link (registration may be needed to access) from Medscape to a slideshow describing some results of a survey of 21,000 physicians, 17,000 in the US and 4,000 in Europe.  There was a comparison of 2014 results with prior results from 2010.  In the intervening 4 years:

  • The share of respondents answering “yes” to the question “should physician-assisted suicide be allowed?” increased to 54% from 46%.  The “no” group had declined from 41% to 31%.
  • In 2014, “yes/no” responses in Europe to the same question were 41% each, compared to 54/31% in the US.  (Most of the remainder said, “it depends,” which I take to be a qualified “yes.”)
  • Support for PAS was greatest in Germany and the UK (47% yes,33% no), least in Spain (36/48%), and intermediate in Italy and France, with a slight plurality for “yes” in both of those nations.
  • The question was asked, “Would you give life-sustaining therapy if you considered it futile?”  This strikes me as one of those poorly-worded survey questions, but about half said “it depends,” a third said “no,” and a fifth said “yes.”  Perhaps not surprising, emergency physicians were a bit more prone to lean toward the side of treating than oncologists or cardiologists.
  • 86% said that life sustaining treatment is NOT being withdrawn “too soon.”
  • About a quarter would continue treatment in defiance of a family’s wishes if they thought there was a reasonable chance of success.  Another quarter would not defy the family, and fully half left the door open (“it depends”).

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.