Attitudes of Acutely Ill Patients Towards Euthanasia in Hong Kong Alternate Title: Patients’ Attitudes Towards Euthanasia



R.C.S Lam1, Wai-Tong Chien*, 2
1 TM Hospital, Hospital Authority Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China
2 Nethersole School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, N.T., Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China


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2007 Bentham Science Publishers Ltd.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/), which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Nethersole School of Nursing, 7/F., Esther Lee Building, Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR, P.R. China; E-mail: wtchien@cuhk.edu.hk


Abstract

The global euthanasia debate by health care professionals has raised important ethical issues concerning the professional duties and responsibilities of nurses caring for terminal patients. The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of acutely ill patients towards the practice of euthanasia in Hong Kong. A modified form of the 23-item Questionnaire for General Household Survey scale was used. This cross-sectional survey study was conducted with a stratified sample of in-patients recruited from a wide variety of departments in a regional, acute general hospital. Seventy-seven out of 129 patients responded (59.7%) and a high proportion of patients agreed with the use of euthanasia in the following circumstances: ‘where they were a third party’, if ‘someone they loved’ was affected, or if ‘they themselves were the patient’. Of the 77 patients, 54 agreed with active euthanasia (70.1%) and 65 with passive (84.4%). The results also indicated that a few socio-demographic characteristics (such as age, gender and household income) statistically significantly correlated with patients’ attitudes towards euthanasia. These findings highlight that Chinese patients with acute illness generally accept the use of euthanasia. Further research on the attitudes and perceptions of patients towards the use of euthanasia is recommended, particularly in diverse groups of Chinese and Asian patients with acute or terminal illness.

Keywords: Euthanasia, patients’ attitude, acutely ill, Chinese.