Medical students' attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide

R. S. Mangus, A. Dipiero, C. E. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

23 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context: In November 1994, Oregon became the first US state to legalize physician-assisted suicide (PAS) as an option for end-of-life care. Objective: This study compares the attitudes and experiences of medical students in Oregon regarding PAS to those of fourth-year medical students in the United States outside Oregon. Design: A survey of all students at the Oregon Health Sciences University and fourth-year medical students at 3 non- Oregonian US medical schools. Participants: Oregon medical students returned 227 questionnaires (58%), and 113 were returned from control schools (33%). Results: A similar percentage of both study groups favored the legalization of PAS (64% vs 66%; P = .74). If the practice were legal, 55% of the total surveyed reported they 'might be willing to write a lethal prescription,' (50% Oregon students vs 60% control: P = .13 and 44% fourth-year Oregon students vs 60% control; P = .04). Among fourth-year students 20% reported a request by a patient to the student or a preceptor for a lethal prescription in the past year (26% vs 16%; P = .09). Conclusions: This study demonstrates support for and willingness by many medical students to participate in PAS. Some medical students reported observation of PAS during their training experience. Fourth-year Oregon students reported significantly less willingness than other students to provide a patient with a lethal prescription, perhaps indicating hesitancy to include PAS in clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2080-2081
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of the American Medical Association
Volume282
Issue number21
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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