Religions (Feb 2018)

Religiosity and the Wish of Older Adults for Physician-Assisted Suicide

  • Sylvie Lapierre,
  • Dolores Angela Castelli Dransart,
  • Kim St-Amant,
  • Gabrièle Dubuc,
  • Maude Houle,
  • Marie-Michelle Lacerte,
  • Christian Maggiori

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 3
p. 66


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In industrialized countries, population ageing is associated with intense discussions on the issue of dying with dignity. Some countries have legalized assisted suicide and authorized physicians to provide the knowledge and/or means for suffering patients to end their life. The goal of this study was to ascertain if religiosity could be a predicting factor of older adults’ wish for physician-assisted suicide (PAS). A sample of 216 men and women over 60 years (M = 72.5) answered the following question: “Would you disagree or agree with assisted suicide for yourself if you were very sick and would die in the near future?” They also completed questionnaires on religiosity, ageism and death anxiety. A regression analysis showed that religiosity explained a significant (F(1211) = 19.62; p < 0.001) proportion (7.7%) of the variance in the wish for PAS (full model R2 = 0.17). Religiosity seems to reduce the likelihood that older adults would ask for PAS if they had a terminal illness, while ageism and death anxiety seemed to have the opposite effect. Health professionals and legislators must be aware that psychosocial and spiritual variables have an important influence on the wish for PAS.