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Geriatric euthanasia: attitudes and experiences of health professionals


Increasingly, decisions to withhold treatment for the terminally ill have received considerable attention in medical, ethical, legal and lay publications. Few studies, however, have examined in detail the beliefs of health professionals about euthanasia, and more importantly, the frequency with which euthanasia occurs. A questionnaire was administered to 190 health care professionals (three-fourths of whom were affiliated with long term health care facilities) to examine these two questions. With regard to passive euthanasia, 83% of the respondents had heard of such cases, 56% had participated, 37% had given the permission for it to occur, and 17% had withheld life support system. With respect to active euthanasia, results were as follows: hearsay, 44%; participation, 21%; permission, 37%; and direct action, 20%. This study supports the need for health care professionals to become more active in the development of broad professional and individual institutional ethical guidelines in the care of the terminally ill.

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Bosmann, H.B., Kay, J. & Conter, E.A. Geriatric euthanasia: attitudes and experiences of health professionals. Soc Psychiatry 22, 1–4 (1987).

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  • Public Health
  • Health Care
  • Health Professional
  • Health Care Facility
  • Support System