Attitudes Towards Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Comparison between Psychiatrists and Other Physicians

7 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2013  

Tal Bergman Levy

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Shlomi Azar

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Ronen Huberfeld

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Andrew M. Siegel

Seattle University School of Law

Rael D. Strous

Tel Aviv University - Sackler Faculty of Medicine

Date Written: September 2013

Abstract

Euthanasia and physician assisted‐suicide are terms used to describe the process in which a doctor of a sick or disabled individual engages in an activity which directly or indirectly leads to their death. This behavior is engaged by the healthcare provider based on their humanistic desire to end suffering and pain. The psychiatrist's involvement may be requested in several distinct situations including evaluation of patient capacity when an appeal for euthanasia is requested on grounds of terminal somatic illness or when the patient is requesting euthanasia due to mental suffering. We compare attitudes of 49 psychiatrists towards euthanasia and assisted suicide with a group of 54 other physicians by means of a questionnaire describing different patients, who either requested physician‐assisted suicide or in whom euthanasia as a treatment option was considered, followed by a set of questions relating to euthanasia implementation. When controlled for religious practice, psychiatrists expressed more conservative views regarding euthanasia than did physicians from other medical specialties. Similarly female physicians and orthodox physicians indicated more conservative views. Differences may be due to factors inherent in subspecialty education. We suggest that in light of the unique complexity and context of patient euthanasia requests, based on their training and professional expertise psychiatrists are well suited to take a prominent role in evaluating such requests to die and making a decision as to the relative importance of competing variables.

Keywords: attitudes, euthanasia, psychiatrists, physician assisted suicide

Suggested Citation

Levy, Tal Bergman and Azar, Shlomi and Huberfeld, Ronen and Siegel, Andrew M. and Strous, Rael D., Attitudes Towards Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide: A Comparison between Psychiatrists and Other Physicians (September 2013). Bioethics, Vol. 27, Issue 7, pp. 402-408, 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2306901 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2012.01968.x

Tal Bergman Levy (Contact Author)

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Post Box No 1, Ramla, Center
70350
Israel

Shlomi Azar

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Post Box No 1, Ramla, Center
70350
Israel

Ronen Huberfeld

Beer Yaakov Mental Health Center

Post Box No 1, Ramla, Center
70350
Israel

Andrew M. Siegel

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

Rael D. Strous

Tel Aviv University - Sackler Faculty of Medicine ( email )

Tel Aviv University
Ramat Aviv, 69978
Israel

Paper statistics

Downloads
1
Abstract Views
295