Medicine Facing Death: Attitudes Toward Physician-Assisted End of Life – A Cross-Sectional Study

Keren Dopelt, Dganit Cohen, Einat Amar-Krispel, Nadav Davidovitch, Paul Barach

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint


Background: The demand for medical assistance in dying remains high and controversial. The "Dying Patient Act" (2005) legalized requiring Israeli patients to receive medical guidance regarding the care (or non-treatment) they seek at the end of life. Many doctors have made it clear that helping a patient die is opposed by their values and professional goals. Objective: To explore the attitudes of physicians regarding euthanasia and examine the factors that related to these attitudes. Methods: We conducted a cross sectional prospective study in Israel, during January-February 2019. We used logistic regression analyses to describe the association of demographic and professional factors with attitudes toward physician-assisted end of life. Results: We surveyed 135 physicians working at a tertiary-care-hospital about their attitudes regarding euthanasia.   About 61% agreed that a person has the right to decide whether to expedite their own death, 54% agreed that euthanasia should be allowed, while 29% thought that physicians should preserve a patient's life even if they expressed the wish to die. Conclusion:  The data shows a conict of values: the sacredness of human life versus the desire to alleviate patient's suffering. Coronavirus outbreak reinforces the urgency of our ndings and raises the importance of supporting physicians' efforts to provide ethical, and empathic communication for terminally ill patients. Future studies should aim to improve our understanding and treatment of the specic types of suffering that lead to end-of-life requests.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2021


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