Finnish physicians’ attitudes towards active euthanasia have become more positive over the last 10 years

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Abstract

Introduction

Most physicians are against active euthanasia. Very little is known about the possible changes in the attitudes of physicians.

Methods

A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 1003 Finnish physicians of working age. A similar questionnaire had been sent to a random sample of Finnish physicians also in 1993 and 2003. The questionnaire consisted of statements about euthanasia, for which the participants were asked to express their agreement or disagreement on a 5-point Likert scale.

Results

In general, Finnish physicians’ attitudes towards active euthanasia have become considerably more positive. In 2003, 61% of the respondents were against the legalisation of euthanasia and 29% supported it. In 2013, both groups were of equal size (46%). The willingness to perform active euthanasia has not, however, increased significantly, even in a legalised setting.

Conclusions

The attitudes of Finnish physicians towards active euthanasia became considerably more positive between 2003 and 2013. There was no significant change, however, in the willingness to practice euthanasia if it became legal.

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