Objective: This study examined aspects of physician attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS) not fully examined to date: evaluation of risks related to PAS, particularly the presence of depression, and the influence of religious and professionally-based values.
Design: Anonymous, self-administered mailed questionnaire using Dillman methodology.
Participants: Targeted sample of physicians licensed by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in 1997 (n = 2,805 completed surveys; 40% response rate). DATA INCLUDE: Physician and patient characteristics, attitudes toward physician assisted suicide, and confidence in treating depression.
Results: Religious affiliation, religiosity, ethnicity and medical specialty were strongly associated with views on PAS. Seven percent of respondents had been asked to write a lethal prescription during the past year, 15% of whom (n = 24) had complied with at least one request.
Conclusions: Most respondents expressed concern regarding certain risks associated with PAS, including movement toward involuntary euthanasia and the influence of undetected depression. Findings raise practical issues to be addressed through statutory or professional safeguards if PAS were to be legalized.