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The attitude of young adults with chronic disease or handicaps towards enforced treatment and euthanasia

Authors
Journal
Patient Education and Counseling
0738-3991
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
38
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0738-3991(98)00125-6
Keywords
  • Attitudes
  • Young Adults
  • Chronic Disease
  • Handicaps
  • Enforced Treatment
  • Euthanasia
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

Abstract One hundred fifty-nine young adults in the 17–18 year old age group suffering from chronic disease or handicap participated in this study which examined their attitudes towards enforced treatment and euthanasia in terminal patients. The comparison group included 120 healthy high school pupils of the same age group. A total of 42.6% of the chronic patients thought that enforced treatment was justified even if the patient didn't understand its importance and didn't want treatment (in comparison with 23.3% of the healthy pupils who felt the same way). Of the chronic patients, 54.4% thought that euthanasia was justified in consenting terminal patients (in comparison with 74.2% of the healthy pupils who felt the same way; P<0.01). This may be explained by the feeling of total dependency of chronic patients upon medication and treatment. On the other hand, they may be opposed to euthanasia because of their own personal hope that a cure would be found for their severe and chronic condition. Both groups studied believed that physicians should always consider the subjective suffering of the patient and his family, as well as the short and long term prognosis when deciding about therapy.

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