To examine attitudes towards physician-assisted suicide (PAS) among physicians in Sweden and compare these with the results from a similar cross-sectional study performed in 2007.
A random selection of 250 physicians from each of six specialties (general practice, geriatrics, internal medicine, oncology, surgery and psychiatry) and all 127 palliative care physicians in Sweden were invited to participate in this study.
A postal questionnaire commissioned by the Swedish Medical Society in collaboration with Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
The total response rate was 59.2%. Slightly fewer than half [47.1% (95% CI 43.7-50.5)] of the respondents from the six specialties accepted PAS, which is significantly more than accepted PAS in the 2007 study [34.9% (95% CI 31.5-38.3)]. Thirty-three percent of respondents were prepared to prescribe the needed drugs. When asked what would happen to the respondent’s own trust in healthcare, a majority [67.1% (95% CI 63.9-70.3)] stated that legalizing PAS would either not influence their own trust in healthcare, or that their trust would increase. This number is an increase compared to the 2007 survey, when just over half [51.9% (95% CI 48.0-55.2)] indicated that their own trust would either not be influenced, or would increase.
The study reveals a shift towards a more accepting attitude concerning PAS among physicians in Sweden. Only a minority of the respondents stated that they were against PAS, and a considerable proportion reported being prepared to prescribe the needed drugs for patient self-administration if PAS were legalized.