0
We're unable to sign you in at this time. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
We were able to sign you in, but your subscription(s) could not be found. Please try again in a few minutes.
Retry
There may be a problem with your account. Please contact the AMA Service Center to resolve this issue.
Contact the AMA Service Center:
Telephone: 1 (800) 262-2350 or 1 (312) 670-7827  *   Email: subscriptions@jamanetwork.com
Error Message ......
ARTICLE |

Attitudes of Elderly Patients and Their Families Toward Physician-Assisted Suicide

Harold G. Koenig, MD, MHSc; Diane Wildman-Hanlon, MSW; Kenneth Schmader, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(19):2240-2248. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440180104013.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

ABSTRACT

Objectives:  To examine and compare attitudes of elderly outpatients and their families toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS), explore sociodemographic and health correlates of these attitudes, assess family members' ability to predict patients' attitudes toward PAS, and determine family members' ability to agree on these predictions.

Subjects and Methods:  Elderly patients with medical and psychiatric problems (n=168; mean age, 75.8 years) who were attending a geriatrics specialty clinic, along with accompanying family members (n=146), were systematically surveyed on their attitudes toward PAS in case of terminal illness, chronic illness, and mental incompetence. Relatives were also asked to predict patients' responses to items on the questionnaire. Patients and relatives were blinded to each others' responses.

Results:  Favorable attitudes toward PAS were reported by 39.9% of the patients and 59.3% of the relatives (P<.001) in case of terminal illness, 18.2% and 25.3%, respectively, in case of chronic illness, 13.5% and 15.4%, respectively, in case of mental incompetence, and 34.0% and 55.6% (P<.001), respectively, for legalization of PAS. Family members showed a marginal ability to predict patients' attitudes toward PAS with κ values of agreement that ranged from 0.09 to 0.41. Family members also had difficulty agreeing with each other on how they thought patients would respond (range of κ values, 0.18-0.47). Patients who opposed PAS were women, black individuals, and those with less education, low incomes, and dementia or cognitive impairment.

Conclusions:  While many frail elderly patients favored PAS in cases of terminal illness, the proportion that opposed it was significantly higher than that among relatives; relatives, in turn, displayed only a marginal ability either to predict patients' attitudes or to agree among themselves. Patients who oppose PAS represent a particularly vulnerable element of society (elderly persons, women, black individuals, and poor, uneducated, and demented persons), and such patients may warrant special protection.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:2240-2248

Topics

Sign in

Create a free personal account to sign up for alerts, share articles, and more.

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview

Figures

Tables

References

Correspondence

CME
Also Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
Please click the checkbox indicating that you have read the full article in order to submit your answers.
Your answers have been saved for later.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Submit a Comment

Multimedia

Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Web of Science® Times Cited: 35

Sign in

Create a free personal account to sign up for alerts, share articles, and more.

Purchase Options

• Buy this article
• Subscribe to the journal

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Jobs
brightcove.createExperiences();