Surveys on attitudes to active euthanasia and the difficulty of drawing normative conclusions

Scand J Public Health. 2000 Jun;28(2):111-6. doi: 10.1177/140349480002800206.


Purpose: To present surveys on active euthanasia and to discuss what normative conclusions can be drawn.

Methods: Two summary articles and 30 recent surveys on attitudes to active euthanasia are discussed.

Results: According to the first summary article, acceptance of active euthanasia among the public has stabilized around 65%; according to the second, almost 60% of physicians are in favour of legalizing active euthanasia. As for the 30 recent surveys, physicians are most often respondents. while the general public is surveyed in only three. The differences in attitudes are striking: 21-78% answered that active euthanasia should be legalized, and 14-51% rejected this idea. The core of the general problem of drawing normative conclusions from empirical data is first addressed; then we discuss the principles of autonomy and beneficence, which are often referred to in arguments for and against euthanasia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Euthanasia / statistics & numerical data*
  • Freedom
  • Humans
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Public Opinion*
  • Right to Die