Poll Finds Over Half of Americans Support Physician-Assisted Suicide For Terminally Ill

ANN ARBOR — More than half of Americans continue to support physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients with less than six months to live, according to the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll. Truven Health Analytics was formerly the health care business of Thomson Reuters

Truven Health Analytics and NPR conduct a monthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.

The survey asked respondents to share their views on physician-assisted suicide. The results were compared with data compiled from the same poll questions asked a year ago and found that 55 percent of Americans support physician-assisted suicide in the case of a terminally ill patient with less than six months to live — the same proportion of those who supported it a year ago. Of those who said they did not support physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill, 23 percent said a physician should be allowed to provide the patient’s family members with the means to end the patient’s life if requested by the patient or family, up slightly from 2011.

When asked their thoughts on physician-assisted suicide in cases when a patient is experiencing severe pain or severe disability, but is not terminally ill, 29 percent said they supported physician-assisted suicide — unchanged from 2011. Twenty eight percent of respondents who did not support physician-assisted suicide for patients experiencing severe pain or disability said a physician should be allowed to provide patients or their family members with the means to end the patient’s life if requested by the patient or family – a slight decrease from 29 percent in 2011.

“As medical science advances, it is becoming more capable of maintaining a life, even perhaps beyond the wishes of the patient and their family,” said Raymond Fabius, M.D., chief medical officer at Truven Health Analytics. “While this subject is difficult to discuss, it will be increasingly relevant as time passes.”

The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health Pulse Healthcare Survey, the nation’s largest and longest-running independently funded, nationally representative telephone poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from more than 100,000 US households annually. Survey questions are developed in conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month’s poll are based on 3,017 participants interviewed from July 1-13, 2011 and 3,006 participants interviewed from October 1-11, 2012. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.

More at www.truvenhealth.com.


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