Perceptions of Portuguese Doctors Regarding Hastened Death Scenarios: A Cross-Sectional Study
Keywords:Decision Making, Euthanasia/legislation & jurisprudence, Portugal, Suicide, Assisted/legislation & jurisprudence
Introduction: A growing number of countries have legalized the process of hastening death. At a time when laws decriminalizing hastened death have been passed in the Portuguese Parliament, the development of research related with decision making regarding this issue is of crucial importance. This study seeks to evaluate, in a sample of Portuguese doctors, whether the presentation of clinical vignettes changes the agreement with the practice of hastened death compared with general scenarios.
Material and Methods: A questionnaire was distributed among academic physicians from medical schools across Portugal to assess their level of agreement or disagreement with the practice of hastened death. The questionnaire included eight standard cases and eight clinical vignettes framed under conditions defined by law for the practice of hastened death. Differences were analyzed using the t-Student test for paired samples.
Results: There were statistically significant differences in five scenarios (t = 3.46; p < 0.05; t = 2.47; p < 0.05; t = 4.28; p < 0.05; t = 3.38; p < 0.05; t = 3.66; p < 0.05) with greater agreement concerning the clinical vignettes. The highest acceptance was found in the requests made by adults with terminal and incurable illnesses.
Conclusion: Agreement increased when the clinical vignette was presented in comparison with the respective standard for most of the cases of hastened death presented.
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