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Swiss doctors' attitudes towards end-of-life decisions and their determinants: a comparison of three language regions


Fischer, S; Bosshard, G; Faisst, Karin; Tschopp, Alois; Fischer, J; Bär, W; Gutzwiller, Felix (2006). Swiss doctors' attitudes towards end-of-life decisions and their determinants: a comparison of three language regions. Swiss Medical Weekly, 136(23-24):370-376.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To investigate attitudes to end-of-life decisions, and the influence of cultural factors and of doctors' personal characteristics on these attitudes.

METHOD: As part of a European research project (EURELD), a study on attitudes towards medical end-of-life decisions was conducted among doctors in the German-, French- and Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland. A written questionnaire was sent to a random sample of nine different types of specialist; it presented 14 statements on end-of-life decisions and doctors were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with them.

RESULTS: The response rate was 64%. 1360 questionnaires were studied. The results show general agreement with statements on the alleviation of pain and other symptoms with possible life-shortening effect, as well as on non-treatment decisions. The language region was a strong determinant of agreement on some attitudes towards end-of-life decisions. Agreement on the use of lethal drugs and alleviation of pain and other symptoms with possible life-shortening effect was higher among French-speaking than among German- and Italian-speaking doctors. For nontreatment decisions, agreement was higher in the German-speaking region than in the French- and Italian-speaking regions of the country. Italian-speaking doctors were strongly opposed to any kind of end-of-life decision. Religious believers and those who attended a larger number of terminal patients tended to disagree more often with end-of-life decisions than the other doctors.

CONCLUSIONS: In end-of-life decision-making, Switzerland represents "Europe in miniature". The impact on end-of-life decisions of cultural factors and the number of terminal patients attended needs further consideration.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: To investigate attitudes to end-of-life decisions, and the influence of cultural factors and of doctors' personal characteristics on these attitudes.

METHOD: As part of a European research project (EURELD), a study on attitudes towards medical end-of-life decisions was conducted among doctors in the German-, French- and Italian-speaking areas of Switzerland. A written questionnaire was sent to a random sample of nine different types of specialist; it presented 14 statements on end-of-life decisions and doctors were asked whether they agreed or disagreed with them.

RESULTS: The response rate was 64%. 1360 questionnaires were studied. The results show general agreement with statements on the alleviation of pain and other symptoms with possible life-shortening effect, as well as on non-treatment decisions. The language region was a strong determinant of agreement on some attitudes towards end-of-life decisions. Agreement on the use of lethal drugs and alleviation of pain and other symptoms with possible life-shortening effect was higher among French-speaking than among German- and Italian-speaking doctors. For nontreatment decisions, agreement was higher in the German-speaking region than in the French- and Italian-speaking regions of the country. Italian-speaking doctors were strongly opposed to any kind of end-of-life decision. Religious believers and those who attended a larger number of terminal patients tended to disagree more often with end-of-life decisions than the other doctors.

CONCLUSIONS: In end-of-life decision-making, Switzerland represents "Europe in miniature". The impact on end-of-life decisions of cultural factors and the number of terminal patients attended needs further consideration.

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6 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute (EBPI)
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:23 Apr 2009 15:12
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:13
Publisher:EMH Swiss Medical Publishers
ISSN:0036-7672
Official URL:http://www.smw.ch/dfe/set_archiv.asp
PubMed ID:16847759

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