This article presents the first results of a study of the decisions made by health professionals in South Australia concerning the management of death, dying, and euthanasia, and focuses on the findings concerning the attitudes and practices of medical practitioners. Mail-back, self-administered questionnaires were posted in August 1991 to a ten per cent sample of 494 medical practitioners in South Australia randomly selected from the list published by the Medical Board of South Australia. A total response rate of 68 per cent was obtained, 60 per cent of which (298) were usable returns. It was found that forty-seven per cent had received requests from patients to hasten their deaths. Nineteen per cent had taken active steps which had brought about the death of a patient. Sixty-eight per cent thought that guidelines for withholding and withdrawal of treatment should be established. Forty-five per cent were in favour of legalisation of active euthanasia under certain circumstances.
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