Title

Should assisted suicide be performed by physicians only? results of a survey among physicians in six European countries and Australia

Document Type

Article

Publication details

Bosshard, G, Fischer, S, Cartwright, CM, Faisst, K, Lofmark, R, Miccinesi, G, Mortier, F, Norup, M, Onwuteaka-Philipsen, B & van Delden, JM 2009, 'Should assisted suicide be performed by physicians only? results of a survey among physicians in six European countries and Australia', Bioethica Forum, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 4-9.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed

Peer-Reviewed

Abstract

Background: Whereas there is broad agreement that euthanasia should be performed by physicians only, this is contested for (physician-) assisted suicide.

Methods: We conducted a survey to investigate whether European and Australian physicians see morally relevant differences between assisted suicide and euthanasia, and whether, after a possible legalization of assisted suicide, they believe it should be performed by physicians only.

Results: 10 139 questionnaires were studied. 76% of the physicians in Belgium, 66% in the Netherlands, 62% in Australia, 48% in Denmark, 44% in Switzerland, and 10% in Sweden thought that assisted suicide should be performed by physicians only. 16% of the physicians in Italy, 30% in Australia, 32% in the Netherlands, 37% in Belgium, 40% in Denmark, 47% in Switzerland, and 51% in Sweden regarded assisted suicide to be morally different from euthanasia. Multinomial logistic regression analysis confirmed the predominant role of the factor country for these opinions.

Conclusions: Country-specific views on the question of whether assisted suicide, after a possible legalization, should be performed by physicians only, are highly diverse, even within Western European countries. These differences should be taken into account when searching for common grounds for regulating assisted dying in westernized countries or even within Europe.