Attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide: Effects of physician background, patient prognosis and patient mental health status

Michelle A. Peacock, Wendy P. Heath, Bruce D. Grannemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate views toward physician-assisted suicide (PAS) as patient illness (terminal, not terminal), patient mental health (depressed, not depressed) and physician background (preoccupied, not preoccupied with death) are varied. Participants (N = 211) read a newspaper article and trial summary involving a PAS then gave their impressions of the patient, physician and PAS. Patient mental health did not affect decisions, but the preoccupied physician's testimony was seen as less believable (intent was seen as patient death, not an end of pain and suffering), and he was more likely to be seen as guilty than the non-preoccupied physician (reflected by both verdict and guilt level ratings). The terminal patient was seen as suffering more, wanting suicide more, and making a more rational decision to die than the non-terminal patient. Results are discussed in light of recent legal activity involving PAS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-242
Number of pages26
JournalPsychology, Crime and Law
Volume7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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Keywords

  • Attitudes toward physician-assisted suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychology(all)

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