Support for and willingness to be involved in voluntary assisted dying : A multisite, cross-sectional survey study of clinicians in Victoria, Australia

Journal article


Sellars, Marcus, Tacey, Mark, McDougall, Rosalind, Hayes, Barbara, Pratt, Bridget, Hempton, Courtney, Detering, Karen, Aldrich, Rosemary, Benson, Melanie, Kirwan, Jeffrey, Gold, Michelle, O'Driscoll, Lisa and Ko, Danielle. (2021). Support for and willingness to be involved in voluntary assisted dying : A multisite, cross-sectional survey study of clinicians in Victoria, Australia. Internal Medicine Journal. 51(10), pp. 1619-1628. https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.15434
AuthorsSellars, Marcus, Tacey, Mark, McDougall, Rosalind, Hayes, Barbara, Pratt, Bridget, Hempton, Courtney, Detering, Karen, Aldrich, Rosemary, Benson, Melanie, Kirwan, Jeffrey, Gold, Michelle, O'Driscoll, Lisa and Ko, Danielle
Abstract

Background
In the Australian state of Victoria, specialist doctors are central to the operation of voluntary assisted dying (VAD). However, a broad range of clinicians may be involved in the care of patients requesting or using VAD.

Aims
To describe levels of support for and willingness to be involved in VAD and consider factors associated with clinician support for the VAD legislation and physicians' willingness to provide VAD in practice.

Methods
A multisite, cross-sectional survey of clinicians in seven Victorian hospitals. All clinicians were invited to complete an online survey measuring demographic characteristics, awareness of and support for the VAD legislation, willingness to participate in VAD related activities and reasons for willingness or unwillingness to participate in VAD.

Results
Of 5690 who opened the survey, 5159 (90.1%) were included in the final sample and 73% (n = 3768) supported the VAD legislation. The strongest predictor of support for the VAD legislation was clinical role. Forty percent (n = 238) of medical specialists indicated they would be willing to participate in either the VAD consulting or coordinating role. Doctors did not differ in willingness between high impact (44%) and low impact specialty (41%); however, doctors specialising in palliative care or geriatric medicine were significantly less willing to participate (27%).

Conclusion
Approximately 73% of surveyed staff supported Victoria's VAD legislation. However, only a minority of medical specialists reported willingness to participate in VAD, suggesting potential access issues for patients requesting VAD in accordance with the legal requirements in Victoria.

Keywordsassisted suicide; euthanasia; assisted dying; surveys and questionnaires
Year2021
JournalInternal Medicine Journal
Journal citation51 (10), pp. 1619-1628
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc.
ISSN1444-0903
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/imj.15434
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85117139086
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1619-1628
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online18 Oct 2021
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Jun 2021
Deposited05 Jul 2022
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