May 26, 2024

Euthanasia: the battle of the press releases

Few UK doctors hasten death
Same statistics, same report, two different headlines: "Third of GPs back
euthanasia" and "Majority of UK Doctors Opposed to Euthanasia".

While both were true, the second was more faithful to the original. Even
though more than 4 out of 5 Britons support physician-assisted suicide, only 1
out of 3 doctors does. And fewer than 1 in 10 palliative care specialists is in

This is the message from a survey of 3,700 doctors in the journal Palliative
Medicine. It provides the first direct comparison between members of the public
and doctors.

Study author Professor Clive Seale, from the Centre for Health Sciences,
Queen Mary University of London, said: "This research shows stark differences
between public opinion and that of doctors. Elsewhere in the world, opposition
among doctors has been a major factor in preventing the legalisation of
euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide."

The study also asked doctors about their involvement in making end of life
treatment decisions. Using a drug with the explicit intention of hastening end
of life remains very rare in UK medical practice – fewer than one in 200

Professor Seale added: "Cases of euthanasia in the UK are very rare. Instead,
end of life treatment decisions are often taken with input from patients and
family, and it is rare for such decisions to have shortened life by more than a
day." press release,
Mar 24
; HealthCare
Republic, Mar 25
; Guardian,
Mar 24