Alberta Euthanasia Survey: 3-Year Follow-Up
Verhoef, Marja J.
Kinsella, T. Douglas
Canadian Medical Association Journal. 1996 Oct 1; 155(7): 885-890.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the opinions of Alberta physicians about active euthanasia had changed and to assess the determinants of potential changes in opinion. DESIGN: Follow-up survey (mailed questionnaire) of physicians included in the 1991 Alberta Euthanasia Survey. SETTING: Alberta. PARTICIPANTS: Of the 1391 physicians who participated in the 1991 survey 1291 (93%) had indicated that they were willing to take part in a follow-up survey. A follow-up questionnaire was mailed in 1994 to 1146 physicians who could be traced through the 1994 Medical Directory of the provincial college of physicians and surgeons; 25 questionnaires were returned because they could not be delivered. OUTCOME MEASURES: Physicians' opinions about (a) the morality of active euthanasia, (b) changes in the law to permit active euthanasia and (c) the practice of legalized euthanasia. RESULTS: Of the 1121 physicians sent a follow-up questionnaire 866 (77%) returned it completed. The responses of these same 866 physicians in 1991 provided a basis for comparison. Of the 866, 360 (42%) stated in the 1994 survey that it is sometimes right to practise active euthanasia; a similar proportion (384 [44%]) gave this response in 1991. However, other opinions changed significantly. In 1991, 250 of the respondents (29%) indicated that they would practise active euthanasia if it were legalized, as compared with 128 (15%) in 1994 (p less than 0.01). In 1991, 429 (50%) of the respondents thought that the law should be changed to permit active euthanasia, as compared with 316 (37%) in 1994 (p less than 0.01). Religious activity was the most important characteristic associated with changes in opinion. Despite the decrease in support for the practice and legalization of active euthanasia between 1991 and 1994, in both surveys at least 70% of those who responded to this question indicated that active euthanasia, if it were legalized, should be performed only by physicians and should be taught at medical sites. CONCLUSION: Alberta physicians' support for the practice and legalization of active euthanasia decreased considerably between 1991 and 1994. However, most physicians remain in favour of restricting active euthanasia, if it were legalized, to the medical profession. These results suggest a need for caution and deliberation when changes in the law concerning active euthanasia are examined.
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Beliefs of Alberta Physicians Concerning Active Euthanasia: Analysis of Qualitative Data Collected in the Alberta Euthanasia Survey Verhoef, Marja J.; Kinsella, T. Douglas; Page, Stacey A. (1996-04)