A study of Canadian hospice palliative care volunteers' attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2015 May;32(3):305-12. doi: 10.1177/1049909114523826. Epub 2014 Feb 21.


The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of hospice palliative care (HPC) volunteers who provide in-home support (n = 47) and members of the community (n = 58) toward the issue of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). On the first part of the survey, participants responded to 15 items designed to assess their attitudes toward PAS. An examination of individual items revealed differences in opinions among members of both the groups. Responses to additional questions revealed that the majority of volunteers and community members (1) support legalizing PAS; (2) would choose HPC over PAS for themselves if they were terminally ill; and (3) think Canadians should place more priority on developing HPC rather than on legalizing PAS. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: attitudes; hospice palliative care; physician-assisted suicide; volunteers.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude*
  • Canada
  • Female
  • Home Care Services
  • Hospice Care / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / psychology*
  • Public Opinion
  • Sex Factors
  • Suicide, Assisted / ethics
  • Suicide, Assisted / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide, Assisted / psychology*
  • Volunteers / psychology*