S Kersh, TA Cavalieri, J Ciesielski, LJ Forman. Opinions and reactions of physicians in New Jersey regarding the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2000;100(6):349–359. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2000.100.6.349.
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Physician-assisted suicide (PAS) was legalized in Oregon in 1997. In the study reported here, the authors surveyed a sample of New Jersey physicians with regard to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and to whether similar legislation should be enacted in New Jersey. A 49-item questionnaire was sent to 563 physicians in New Jersey who were licensed in the specialties of family practice, internal medicine, surgery, psychiatry, and obstetrics/gynecology. The questionnaire contained sections pertaining to demographics, physicians' attitudes regarding PAS, and physicians' opinions on Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. A brief summary of the legislation was included in the mailing, which participants were asked to read before completing the questionnaire. Of the 191 physicians who responded to the survey, 55% agreed with legislation that would legalize PAS, and 59% said that a law similar to that enacted in Oregon should exist in New Jersey. However, only 47% of respondents indicated that they believed PAS to be consistent with the role of a physician to relieve pain and suffering. Slightly more than half of respondents indicated that they would refuse to participate in PAS and were concerned about issues such as professional and personal liability and the potential for abuse. Physicians in New Jersey will require additional information, education, and discussion of the ethical and legal implications of PAS before a law similar to that in Oregon could be proposed or considered.
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