April 24, 2024

Polls on assisted-suicide vary dramatically with question

An American survey of surveys about doctor-assisted suicide shows that people’s answers shift with the wording of the pollsters’ questions — “one of the chief markers of unresolved thinking”, according to the research group Public Agenda. People are significantly less likely to support it if the word “suicide” is used and significantly more likely when safeguards are described or if “wishes of a dying patient” are mentioned.

Public Agenda examined several polls done in 1997 and 1999. When the word suicide was avoided, support for legalisation fell from 68% to 45%. When the wishes of dying patients were mentioned, support rose from 45% to 61%. When safeguards were described, support reached 67%.