Physician Opinions on Euthanasia and PAS


  1. To Die, to Sleep: US Physicians' Religious and Other Objections to Physician-Assisted Suicide, Terminal Sedation, and Withdrawal of Life Support, Apr./May 2008

  2. Attitudes and Practices of U.S. Oncologists Regarding Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, Oct., 2000

  3. Attitudes and Practices Concerning the End of Life, Jan. 10, 2000

  1. The Practice of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States, Aug. 1998

  2. National Survey of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the United States, Apr. 23, 1998

  3. The Role of Critical Care Nurses in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, May 23, 1996


1. "To Die, to Sleep: US Physicians' Religious and Other Objections to Physician-Assisted Suicide, Terminal Sedation, and Withdrawal of Life Support"
(Source: Farr A. Curlin, MD et al. )
In a national survey of 2,000 practicing US physicians (all members of the American Medical Association), researchers found:Physician-Assisted Suicide:
  • 42% Had both a "religious and nonreligious objection" to physician-assisted suicide
  • 31% Had "no objection" to physician-assisted suicide
  • 21% Had a "nonreligious objection" to physician-assisted suicide
  • 5% Had a "religious objection" to physician-assisted suicide

    Terminal Sedation:
  • 82% Had "no objection" to terminal sedation
  • 9% Had both a "religious and nonreligious objection" to terminal sedation
  • 7% Had a "nonreligious objection" to terminal sedation
  • 2% Had a "religious objection" to terminal sedation

    Withdrawal of Life Support:
  • 95% Had "no objection" to withdrawal of life support
  • 3% Had both a "religious and nonreligious objection" to withdrawal of life support
  • 1% Had a "nonreligious objection" to withdrawal of life support
  • 1% Had a "religious objection" to withdrawal of life support

    Physician Characteristics:
  • 79% of Asian doctors in the US object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 71% of Hispanic doctors in the US object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 67% of White doctors in the US object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 65% of Black doctors in the US object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 79% of Catholic doctors object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 79% of Muslim doctors object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 75% of Protestant doctors object to physician-assisted suicide>
  • 74% of Hindu doctors object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 54% of Jewish doctors object to physician-assisted suicide
  • 39% of doctors with no religious affiliation object to physician-assisted suicide
  • Physicians from the US Midwest are more likely to object to physician-assisted suicide than those from the US South

    (American Journal of Hospice and Pallative Medicine, Apr./May 2008)


2. "Attitudes and Practices of U.S. Oncologists Regarding Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide"
(Source: Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD et al. )
In a survey of 3,299 oncologists (all members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology), researchers found:Support
  • 22.5% supported the use of physician-assisted suicide for a "terminally ill patient with unremitting pain"
  • 6.5% supported the use of euthanasia for a "terminally ill patient with unremitting pain"

    Willingness
  • 15.6% were "personally willing to provide physician-assisted suicide for a patient in excruciating pain"
  • 2% were "personally willing to provide euthanasia for a patient in excruciating pain"

    Patient Requests
  • 56.2% "had requests" for physician-assisted suicide during their career
  • 38.2% "had requests" for euthanasia during their career

    Clinical Practice
  • 10.8% "had performed physician-assisted suicide" during their career
  • 3.7% "had performed euthanasia" during their career

    (Annals of Internal Medicine, Oct. 2000)



3. "Attitudes and Practices Concerning the End of Life: A Comparison Between Physicians From the United States and From the Netherlands"
(Source: Dick Willems, MD, PhD et al. )
In interviews with 152 physicians from Oregon, researchers found:In cases where patients were facing excruciating pain
  • 53% of physicians answered yes or probably yes to the question: "Would it have been all right, upon request from the patient, to intentionally prescribe drugs so the patient could end his or her life by overdose?"
  • 24% of physicians answered yes or probably yes to the question: "Would it have been all right, upon request from the patient, to administer intravenous drugs, such as potassium, to intentionally end the patient's life?"

    In cases where patients have a few months to live and are debilitated due to terminal cancer but have no pain
  • 37% of physicians answered yes or probably yes to the question: "Would it have been all right, upon request from the patient, to intentionally prescribe drugs so the patient could end his or her life by overdose?"
  • 14% of physicians answered yes or probably yes to the question: "Would it have been all right, upon request from the patient, to administer intravenous drugs, such as potassium, to intentionally end the patient's life?"

    (Archives of Internal Medicine, Jan. 10, 2000)



4. "The Practice of Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in the United States: Adherence to Proposed Safeguards and Effects on Physicians"
(Source: Ezekiel Emanuel, MD, PhD et al. )

In interviews with 355 oncologists throughout the United States, researchers found:
  • 15.8% "reported participating in euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide"

    (Journal of the American Medical Association, Aug. 1998)



5. "A National Survey of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the United States"
(Source: Diane Meier, MD, et al. )

In a national survey of 1,902 physicians in the 10 specialties in which doctors are most likely to receive requests from patients for assistance with suicide or euthanasia, researchers found:Lethal Prescription
  • 11% of physicians said that "under current legal constraints, there were circumstances in which they would be willing to hasten a patient's death by prescribing medication"
  • 36% said they would be willing to hasten a patient's death by prescribing medication "if it were legal"

    Lethal Injection
  • 7% of physicians said that "under current legal constraints", there were "circumstances in which they would administer a lethal injection to a competent patient"
  • 24% said they would be willing to administer a lethal injection to a competent patient "if the practice were legal"

    Requests Received
  • 18.3% of physicians "reported having received a request from a patient for medication to use with the primary intention of ending the patient's life"
  • 11.1% of physicians "reported having received a request for a lethal injection"

    Requests Honored
  • 3.3% of physicians (16% of those who had received requests) "reported that they had written a prescription for a lethal dose of medication"
  • 4.7% of physicians "said that they had administered at least one lethal injection"

    (New England Journal of Medicine, Apr. 23, 1998)



6. "The Role of Critical Care Nurses in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide"
(Source: David Asch, MD)

In a survey of 1,139 critical care nurses in the United States, Dr. Asch found:
  • 17% "reported that they had received requests from patients or family members to perform euthanasia or assist in suicide"
  • 11% had granted a request to perform euthanasia or assist in suicide
  • 4% "had hastened a patient's death by only pretending to provide life-sustaining treatment ordered by a physician"

    (New England Journal of Medicine, May 23, 1996)