Older adults' attitudes toward using Euthanasia at the end-of life: cancer vs. Parkinson's disease

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Abstract

Background: There is a paucity of studies that compare older adults' attitudes toward Euthanasia in two different terminal illnesses. Moreover, these studies did not relate to potentially influencing psycho-social factors. The current study aimed to examine the impact of a diverse range of variables on attitudes among older adults toward Euthanasia in two medical conditions: cancer and Parkinson's disease. Methods: A total of 501 individuals aged 75 and above participated in the study. Attitudes toward Euthanasia were measured using vignettes which described two conditions: an 80-year-old man with metastatic cancer and another man in an advanced stage of Parkinson's disease. The questionnaire included measures of relevant experience (with a close family member or a friend dying from a terminal illness), self-efficacy, will to live, satisfaction with life, will to prolong life, fear of death and dying, social support, and psycho-social characteristics. The data were analyzed using hierarchical linear regression models. Results: A more positive attitude toward Euthanasia was found in the case of cancer compared to Parkinson's disease. Being a woman, having more years of education, lower level of religiosity, greater fear of death and dying and higher self-efficacy contributes to more favorable attitudes toward Euthanasia in both end-of life conditions. Conclusions: The finding that attitudes toward Euthanasia are statistically significantly more positive in the case of cancer compared to Parkinson's disease can be attributed to the greater prevalence of cancer in the population, and to the public's awareness of the suffering associated with each of these medical conditions. Beyond the important role of the socio-demographic characteristics of gender, education, and religiosity, it appears that fear of death and dying and self-efficacy are important psychological factors in explaining attitudes toward Euthanasia in both illnesses among older people. These findings shed light on older adults' attitudes toward Euthanasia in debilitating illnesses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1393535
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Volume12
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • attitudes
  • cancer
  • end-of life decisions
  • Euthanasia
  • older adults
  • Parkinson's disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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