Attitudes Regarding Assisted Suicide in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
|Title||Attitudes Regarding Assisted Suicide in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Authors||Bowen JD, Sullivan KM, Gianas A, Gibbons LE, Kraft GH|
Purpose: To assess attitudes about assisted suicide in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). Methods: Surveys were sent to 576 MS patients registered with a county MS association. Findings: Of respondents (N= 405), 79% were female; median age was 50 (range 21-78); 61% lived with a partner, and 69% were educated beyond high school. The median EDSS score was 6 (range 0-9). Imagining a severe worsening of their MS without recovery, 53% would want a medication to end their life, whereas 61 % would consider it &dquo;under some circumstances&dquo;. Most (61%) would like these available to patients, but only 3% would have taken one during the past year. Most (63%) thought they should be available only through a physician. A minority (22%) thought that these medications should not be available. Factors rated very important in forming these opinions included having control (64%), pain (63%), loss of purpose/enjoyment (58%), loss of cognition (56%), dependency (50%), religious beliefs (37%), timing (36%), financial (31%), what others would think (20%), having a long life (20%), and legality (19%). Those supporting assisted suicide were more educated (p=0.003), less disabled (p=0.018), and younger (p=0.03). Conclusions: Most MS patients want medications available to end their life under some circumstances, but only with a physician’s supervision. Only 3% would have taken the medication in the past year. Factors that are most important in forming these opinions are control, pain, loss of purpose/enjoyment, loss of cognition and dependency.