Differences in Attitudes Toward Terminal Patients Among Selected Medical Specialties of Physicians

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Medical specialty of physicians was related to attitudes toward dying patients to determine if differences occur as suggested by the literature. Data from a questionnaire completed by 1,012 physicians from the classes of 1972-1975 in five selected medical schools were analyzed using the chisquare distribution to test the relationship between the response to each of the 11 Likert-type statements and the medical specialty of the physicians. Mean responses by medical specialty to the statements were ranked and correlated to Rea's ranking with respect to the probability of dealing with terminal patients by specialty using a Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient. Support was found for Rea's conclusion that physicians such as oncologists with a high probability of relating to dying patients tended to be more open with the patient whereas a specialty like obstetrics-gynecology with a low probability tended to operate in more of a closed awareness context

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