Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain

Ciaran O'Neill, Dermot Feenan, Carmel Hughes, Denise McAlister

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    30 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Legalisation of assisted suicide presents a dilemma for society. This arises because of a lack of consensus regarding the precedence to be accorded freedom of choice versus the inviolability of human life. Several factors including improvements in medical technology, population ageing and changing perceptions about quality of life serve to make a re-examination of attitudes to this issue appropriate at this time. Within this context, data from the 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1994 British Social Attitudes Surveys (BSAS) were examined. These demonstrate a slight increase in support for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) from around 75% to around 84% over the 11-year period in Britain. A much lower level of support (54%) was recorded in relation to family-assisted suicide (FAS). A logistic regression analysis of data from the 1994 survey was undertaken to establish the relationship between attitudes toward legalisation of PAS and FAS and the characteristics of the respondent. Strength of religious affiliation was found to be a significant determinant of opposition to legalisation of both. Religious denomination was found to be marginally significant in relation to PAS but not FAS. Members of the Church of England, non-Christian faiths and those of no faith were found to be marginally more likely to support legalisation of PAS, than Roman Catholics or those of other Christian f faiths. Education, income, sex, marital status, long-standing illness and age were not found to be significant predictors of attitude. In relation to FAS age was also found to be significant predictor of opposition. Findings here suggest that if Britain continues to become a more secularised society, support for legalisation of PAS (and FAS) is likely to increase. As health care costs continue to grow and the ability to extend life (even where the quality of that life may be poor) increases, pressure for legalisation of PAS may increase.
    LanguageEnglish
    Pages721-731
    JournalSOCIAL SCIENCE and MEDICINE
    Volume57
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

    Fingerprint

    Assisted Suicide
    assisted suicide
    physician
    legalization
    faith
    Quality of Life
    denomination
    Physician-assisted Suicide
    Public Attitudes
    Suicide
    Physicians
    quality of life
    opposition
    decision making leeway
    medical technology
    Aptitude
    social attitude
    Sex Education
    Marital Status
    marital status

    Cite this

    O'Neill, C., Feenan, D., Hughes, C., & McAlister, D. (2003). Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain. SOCIAL SCIENCE and MEDICINE, 57(4), 721-731.
    O'Neill, Ciaran ; Feenan, Dermot ; Hughes, Carmel ; McAlister, Denise. / Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain. In: SOCIAL SCIENCE and MEDICINE. 2003 ; Vol. 57, No. 4. pp. 721-731.
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    abstract = "Legalisation of assisted suicide presents a dilemma for society. This arises because of a lack of consensus regarding the precedence to be accorded freedom of choice versus the inviolability of human life. Several factors including improvements in medical technology, population ageing and changing perceptions about quality of life serve to make a re-examination of attitudes to this issue appropriate at this time. Within this context, data from the 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1994 British Social Attitudes Surveys (BSAS) were examined. These demonstrate a slight increase in support for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) from around 75{\%} to around 84{\%} over the 11-year period in Britain. A much lower level of support (54{\%}) was recorded in relation to family-assisted suicide (FAS). A logistic regression analysis of data from the 1994 survey was undertaken to establish the relationship between attitudes toward legalisation of PAS and FAS and the characteristics of the respondent. Strength of religious affiliation was found to be a significant determinant of opposition to legalisation of both. Religious denomination was found to be marginally significant in relation to PAS but not FAS. Members of the Church of England, non-Christian faiths and those of no faith were found to be marginally more likely to support legalisation of PAS, than Roman Catholics or those of other Christian f faiths. Education, income, sex, marital status, long-standing illness and age were not found to be significant predictors of attitude. In relation to FAS age was also found to be significant predictor of opposition. Findings here suggest that if Britain continues to become a more secularised society, support for legalisation of PAS (and FAS) is likely to increase. As health care costs continue to grow and the ability to extend life (even where the quality of that life may be poor) increases, pressure for legalisation of PAS may increase.",
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    O'Neill, C, Feenan, D, Hughes, C & McAlister, D 2003, 'Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain', SOCIAL SCIENCE and MEDICINE, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 721-731.

    Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain. / O'Neill, Ciaran; Feenan, Dermot; Hughes, Carmel; McAlister, Denise.

    In: SOCIAL SCIENCE and MEDICINE, Vol. 57, No. 4, 2003, p. 721-731.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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    T1 - Physician and Family Assisted Suicide: Results from a Study of Public Attitudes in Britain

    AU - O'Neill, Ciaran

    AU - Feenan, Dermot

    AU - Hughes, Carmel

    AU - McAlister, Denise

    PY - 2003

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    N2 - Legalisation of assisted suicide presents a dilemma for society. This arises because of a lack of consensus regarding the precedence to be accorded freedom of choice versus the inviolability of human life. Several factors including improvements in medical technology, population ageing and changing perceptions about quality of life serve to make a re-examination of attitudes to this issue appropriate at this time. Within this context, data from the 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1994 British Social Attitudes Surveys (BSAS) were examined. These demonstrate a slight increase in support for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) from around 75% to around 84% over the 11-year period in Britain. A much lower level of support (54%) was recorded in relation to family-assisted suicide (FAS). A logistic regression analysis of data from the 1994 survey was undertaken to establish the relationship between attitudes toward legalisation of PAS and FAS and the characteristics of the respondent. Strength of religious affiliation was found to be a significant determinant of opposition to legalisation of both. Religious denomination was found to be marginally significant in relation to PAS but not FAS. Members of the Church of England, non-Christian faiths and those of no faith were found to be marginally more likely to support legalisation of PAS, than Roman Catholics or those of other Christian f faiths. Education, income, sex, marital status, long-standing illness and age were not found to be significant predictors of attitude. In relation to FAS age was also found to be significant predictor of opposition. Findings here suggest that if Britain continues to become a more secularised society, support for legalisation of PAS (and FAS) is likely to increase. As health care costs continue to grow and the ability to extend life (even where the quality of that life may be poor) increases, pressure for legalisation of PAS may increase.

    AB - Legalisation of assisted suicide presents a dilemma for society. This arises because of a lack of consensus regarding the precedence to be accorded freedom of choice versus the inviolability of human life. Several factors including improvements in medical technology, population ageing and changing perceptions about quality of life serve to make a re-examination of attitudes to this issue appropriate at this time. Within this context, data from the 1983, 1984, 1989 and 1994 British Social Attitudes Surveys (BSAS) were examined. These demonstrate a slight increase in support for physician-assisted suicide (PAS) from around 75% to around 84% over the 11-year period in Britain. A much lower level of support (54%) was recorded in relation to family-assisted suicide (FAS). A logistic regression analysis of data from the 1994 survey was undertaken to establish the relationship between attitudes toward legalisation of PAS and FAS and the characteristics of the respondent. Strength of religious affiliation was found to be a significant determinant of opposition to legalisation of both. Religious denomination was found to be marginally significant in relation to PAS but not FAS. Members of the Church of England, non-Christian faiths and those of no faith were found to be marginally more likely to support legalisation of PAS, than Roman Catholics or those of other Christian f faiths. Education, income, sex, marital status, long-standing illness and age were not found to be significant predictors of attitude. In relation to FAS age was also found to be significant predictor of opposition. Findings here suggest that if Britain continues to become a more secularised society, support for legalisation of PAS (and FAS) is likely to increase. As health care costs continue to grow and the ability to extend life (even where the quality of that life may be poor) increases, pressure for legalisation of PAS may increase.

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    JF - Social Science and Medicine

    SN - 0277-9536

    IS - 4

    ER -