Physician-Assisted Suicide Attitudes of Older Mexican-American and Non-Hispanic White Adults: Does Ethnicity Make a Difference?

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Abstract

Little is known about attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS) in various ethnic groups. This study compares attitudes held by older Mexican Americans and non-Hispanic whites and examines subject characteristics that may influence their responses. A convenience sample of 100 older Mexican Americans and 108 non-Hispanic whites (n=208) aged 60 to 89 were recruited from four primary care community-based practice sites in San Antonio, Texas. Interview items measured attitudes toward PAS, cognitive status, functional status, and religiosity.

Older Mexican Americans (52.7%) reported stronger agreement than non-Hispanic whites (33.7%) with PAS. Male sex (odds ratio (OR)=2.62, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.09–6.35) predicted agreement with legalization in Mexican Americans, whereas lower religiosity scores (OR=0.84, 95% CI=0.75–0.94) were predictive of agreement in older non-Hispanic whites.

This study is the first to find positive attitudes among community-dwelling older Mexican Americans toward PAS that are higher than those of older non-Hispanic white adults. Sex and religious views were important determinants of positive attitudes toward PAS. Larger, more-generalizable studies should be conducted to confirm the attitudinal patterns that have been identified in this study.

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