Attitudes toward euthanasia of physician members of the Italian Society for Palliative Care

G. Di Mola, P. Borsellino, C. Brunelli, M. Gallucci, A. Gamba, M. Lusignani, C. Regazzo, A. Santosuosso, M. Tamburini, F. Toscani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The problems related to requests for euthanasia by terminal patients; the variations in attitude of palliative care physicians and the possibility that availability of the best palliative care might obviate the problem by eliminating requests for euthanasia, are under discussion. Design. A mailed survey with no possibility of follow-up of all 685 physician members of the Italian Society for Palliative Care (SICP) in 1994. Results: Of the 359 (52.4%) responders, 139 (39%) had received requests for euthanasia; 16 of them (4% of the responders but 11.5% of those who received requests) had complied at least once, while 216 (60%) had not; 125 (35%) thought that euthanasia was 'wrong' under all circumstances; 115 (32%) thought that situations could occur, even in the context of palliative care, in which euthanasia might be ethically 'correct'; 185 (52%) thought that the best palliative care might solve the problem of euthanasia, while 109 (30%) believed otherwise. The variable most strongly associated with a negative attitude toward euthanasia and with the opinion that the best palliative care might be a solution to the problem is religious belief (P <0.0001). Conclusions: The attitudes of physicians practising palliative care in Italy are not different from those reported by previous studies which investigated the attitude of other health professionals. There was no agreement about whether the best palliative care might reduce requests for euthanasia by terminal patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-911
Number of pages5
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Volume7
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • cancer
  • ethics
  • euthanasia
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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