Author(s): McCormack R, Clifford M, Conroy M
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Abstract OBJECTIVES: To review studies over a 20-year period that assess the attitudes of UK doctors concerning active, voluntary euthanasia (AVE) and physician-assisted suicide (PAS), assess efforts to minimise bias in included studies, determine the effect of subgroup variables (e.g. age, gender) on doctors' attitudes, and make recommendations for future research. DATA SOURCES: Three electronic databases, four pertinent journals, reference lists of included studies. REVIEW METHODS: Literature search of English articles between January 1990 and April 2010. Studies were excluded if they did not present independent data (e.g. commentaries) or if they related to doctors outside the UK, patients younger than 18 years old, terminal sedation, withdrawing or withholding treatment, or double-effect. Quantitative and qualitative data were extracted. RESULTS: Following study selection and data extraction, 15 studies were included. UK doctors oppose the introduction of both AVE and PAS in the majority of studies. Degree of religiosity appeared as a statistically significant factor in influencing doctors' attitudes. The top three themes in the qualitative analysis were the provision of palliative care, adequate safeguards in the event of AVE or PAS being introduced, and a profession to facilitate AVE or PAS that does not include doctors. CONCLUSIONS: UK doctors appear to oppose the introduction of AVE and PAS, even when one considers the methodological limitations of included studies. Attempts to minimise bias in included studies varied. Further studies are necessary to establish if subgroup variables other than degree of religiosity influence attitudes, and to thoroughly explore the qualitative themes that appeared.
This article was published in Palliat Med
and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology