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The Euthanasia Awareness Survey

The Spandan 97 Editorial Board
from Spandan 1996-97 Cover Story on Euthanasia

Concept and Design: Raju Easwaran and Nikhil Goyal
Interpretation: Raju Easwaran and Nikhil Goyal
Distribution and Collection: Ajay Jain, Animesh Damani, Himanshu Tyagi, Nidhi Singh, Nikhil Goyal, Pooja Jain, Raju Easwaran, Sunil Agarwal,Vineet Saggad.

As part of the cover story, a survey on Euthanasia was conducted amongst the doctors of LNJPN and G.B.Pant Hospital, to find out their attitudes on euthanasia. The idea was well received by the doctors, who took time out of their busy schedule to fill in the form...

The Survey Questionnaire

The Survey Questionnaire was distributed amongst the Post-Graduates, Senior Residents and Consultants of various specialities, including Surgery, Medicine, Anaesthesia, Orthopedics, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Cardiology, ICCU. Approximately 450 forms were distributed. Complete anonymity was assured, only age and department (optional) were included in the personal details. Questions were to be answered in a yes/no form. The questions asked were:

  1. Do you consider yourself to be pro- or anti- euthanasia?
  2. Are you aware of the Indian Laws on euthanasia?
  3. Are you aware of any famous organizations/personalities concerned with euthanasia, in India or abroad? (if yes, please list)
  4. Have you ever euthanized a patient (ended a patient's life intending to end his/her suffering?)
  5. Suppose you were to face the following scenarios in practice. Would you, as the physician, have agreed to mercy killing?
    1. Your patient has an incurable and painful illness and is bound to die (e.g. dying of cancer). He begs you to end his life. Would you?
    2. Your patient has an incurable illness and is too ill to make a decision,or is unable to convey his intentions (e.g. in coma on life-support, with no hope of regaining consciousness)
      1. The patient's relatives plead with you to remove life-support. Would you?
      2. The relatives are indifferent. Would you try to convince them of the futility of prolonging the patient's life?
    3. The patient is not in pain or in danger of death but becomes completely and permanently dependent on his relatives. He begs you to end his life. Would you?
    4. If you answered 'No' to any of the above scenarios, would you rather give instructions to the patient/relatives on how to assist in the death of the patient (information about lethal drugs, overdose sleeping pills, how to die painlessly, etc.) instead of doing it yourself? Please indicate yes/no for each of the 4 scenarios.
Reading the Results

The number of replies 'Yes', 'No' and no responses (Blank) were counted, and results expressed under different age groups. For the question V-4, percentages were calculated using the number of 'No' replies to the corresponding scenario as the base. The results are given in the two tables below. Other important points:

  • Of those aware of Indian Law on Euthanasia, most stated that they knew it was illegal.
  • In the personalities question, the most common person on the list was Dr. Jack. Most of the 'Aware but Don't Recall' responses referred to an American doctor with an exotic name.
  • The respondents who had admitted to euthanising a patient almost always mentioned that is was passive euthanasia.
  • The 'Other' field under Scenario 1 (Q 5-1) includes response like maybe,etc.

There were 12 responses in the age group 30-39.

  • 7 of these were Pro-Euthanasia, 5 Anti-Euthanasia.
  • For Scenario V-1, 7 said they would euthanize the patient while 5 said they would not. (Table 1).
  • ut of the 5 who said they would not, 1 said he/she would agree to give information on euthanasia to a patient’s relatives in a similar case (Qs.V-4), while the rest said they would not even do that. (Table 2)
  • Overall, while 33% respondents would not euthanize a patient as in Scenario V-1, 20% of these would have aided in the patient’s death by providing lethal information (Table 1 & 2)

Click Here to View Complete Results

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Copyright (c) 2004, Nikhil Goyal. All rights reserved.