Opinions concerning euthanasia, life-sustaining treatment and acceleration of death: Results of an Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM) survey

Chiara Catania, V. Zagonel, V. Fosser, N. La Verde, O. Bertetto, C. Lacono, M. Venturini, D. Radice, L. Adamoli, F. Boccardo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Advance directives, acceleration of death, euthanasia and 'life-sustaining treatment' have sparked much heated debate among the media, the public, doctors and political leaders. We evaluate the personal opinions of Italian Association of Medical Oncology (AIOM) members. Patients and methods: A 30-item questionnaire was developed and delivered to all 1832 AIOM members. Results: Six-hundred and eighty-five (37%) oncologists completed and returned the questionnaires. Sixty-three per cent felt culturally and psychologically prepared to face these issues. Fifty-four per cent believed that what had been decided while the patient enjoyed good health is no longer applicable in an advanced state of terminal illness. Thirty-nine per cent believed that doctors should abide by these directives, while 49% believed that this should be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Fourteen per cent of oncologists were favourable towards euthanasia and 42% only in particular circumstances. Fifty-six per cent had received at least one request for accelerating death: 15% consented, 50% discussed it with the patient and 31% refused. Conclusion: Advance directives, euthanasia, accelerated death and life-sustaining treatment represent considerable challenges for Italian oncologists. Although prepared to face these issues, AIOM members ask for a debate within the medical world and for a shared judicial regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1947-1954
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008



  • Acceleration of death
  • Advance directives
  • Euthanasia
  • Life sustaining treatment
  • Oncological patients

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology

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