Attitudes towards end-of-life decisions in case of long-term care dependency: a survey among the older population in Austria.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Research on attitudes towards end-of-life decisions (ELDs) contextually most often refers to the very end of life, that is, to situations of terminally ill patients or severe pain, but it is rarely applied to the broader context of long-term care dependency in old age.

METHODS

In a representative survey among older Austrians (50+, n=968), respondents were asked about their approval of assisted suicide and euthanasia (EUT) when requested by an older, severely care-dependent person. The influence of sociodemographics, care-related experiences and expectations, religiosity, trust, locus of control and concerns regarding constrictions of old age on the approval of both these ELDs was assessed through logistic regression analyses.

RESULTS

42% and 34% of the respondents approved assisted suicide and EUT, respectively, in case of care dependency. Non-religious individuals, less trusting respondents and those concerned about constrictions associated with old age were more likely to approve both these ELDs.

CONCLUSIONS

Widespread concerns regarding long-term care dependency in old age should be addressed in information campaigns, and public discourse about ELDs should pay more attention to situations of long-term care dependency.

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