School for Social Work
The quantitative study reported here surveyed North Carolina clinicians who perform end of care about their attitudes toward physician assisted suicide (PAS). Twenty-four clinicians, representing varying disciplines from within the field of end of life care, shared their opinions via a 12-item survey. Clinicians were asked to think about PAS in terms of their stance as to when it may or may not be an appropriate practice, and how their own personal, religious, professional, and ethical beliefs influence their views on PAS. Participating clinicians were also surveyed about the recently enacted North Carolina Right to a Natural Death Act. Findings indicated that knowledge about the Right to a Natural Death Act is rare in the participation group. Less than one-third of respondents were aware of the North Carolina Right to a Natural Death Act. Findings showed clinicians' attitudes towards patients' rights to autonomy and self-determination when making end of life decisions are positive ones, consistent with findings from public opinion polls for the U.S. population as a whole over many recent years. The most surprising finding was that, within this sample, clinicians considered the views held by physicians on PAS to be as important to take into account as those of the patient and that patient's family.
Walker, Ollie Dooling, "Physician assisted suicide : a survey of North Caroline end of life care workers" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.