A scale to assess attitudes toward euthanasia

Omega (Westport). 2005;51(3):229-37. doi: 10.2190/FGHE-YXHX-QJEA-MTM0.


The topic of euthanasia has been a matter of public debate for several decades. Although empirical research should inform policy, scale measurement is lacking. After analyzing shortcomings of previous work, we offer a systematically designed scale to measure attitudes toward euthanasia. We attempt to encompass previously unspecified dimensions of the phenomenon that are central to the euthanasia debate. The results of our pretest show that our attitude towards euthanasia (ATE) scale is both reliable and valid. We delineate active and passive euthanasia, no chance for recovery and severe pain, and patient's autonomy and doctor's authority. We argue that isolating these factors provides a more robust scale capable of better analyzing sample variance. Internal consistency is established with Cronbach's alpha=.871. Construct external consistency is established by correlating the scale with other predictors such as race and spirituality.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude*
  • Euthanasia, Active / psychology*
  • Euthanasia, Passive / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Physician's Role
  • Psychometrics / standards
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology
  • United States