Oncology nurses' attitudes regarding voluntary, physician-assisted dying for competent, terminally ill patients

Oncol Nurs Forum. 1993 Apr;20(3):445-51.


Euthanasia and "voluntary dying" are among the most controversial issues involved in cancer care. The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore oncology nurses' attitudes about physician-assisted death (PAD) for competent, terminally ill adults who request this assistance. Questionnaires were sent to 2,000 randomly selected members of the Oncology Nursing Society. The questionnaires included demographic questions, four vignettes describing patient care situations and possible responses based on beliefs about PAD, and questions that explored awareness of organizations and legislation that promote legalization of PAD. The response rate was 61% (1,210). Findings indicate that oncology nurses hold diverse views regarding the acceptability of PAD. Although many nurses favored PAD, they also expressed a reluctance to administer the medication that would cause death. Given that PAD is an ethical and legal issue in the United States for terminally ill patients, nurses are encouraged to become informed about the concept of PAD and be prepared to actively respond to the policy-making ramifications of the assisted-death movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Educational Status
  • Euthanasia, Active, Voluntary*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Competency
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Oncology Nursing*
  • Religion
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Suicide, Assisted* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Suicide, Assisted* / prevention & control
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Terminal Care / standards
  • United States