Aim To study the views of people in a largely Muslim country, Kuwait, of the acceptability of a life-ending action such as physician-assisted suicide (PAS).
Method 330 Kuwaiti university students judged the acceptability of PAS in 36 scenarios composed of all combinations of four factors: the patient's age (35, 60 or 85 years); the level of incurability of the illness (completely incurable vs extremely difficult to cure); the type of suffering (extreme physical pain or complete dependence) and the extent to which the patient requests a life-ending procedure, euthanasia or PAS (no request, some form of request, repeated requests). In all scenarios, the patients were women who were receiving the best possible care. The ratings were subjected to cluster analysis and analyses of variance.
Results Five clusters were found. For 44%, PAS was always very unacceptable, no matter what the circumstances. For 23%, it was unacceptable, but less so if the patient was older or requested it repeatedly. For 16%, it was unacceptable if the patient was young but was acceptable if the patient was elderly. For 5%, it was unacceptable if the patient had extreme pain but was acceptable if completely dependent. For 11%, it was unacceptable if the patient did not request it but acceptable if she did.
Conclusion The majority of the Kuwaiti university students opposed PAS either categorically or with a slight variation according to circumstances. Nonetheless, a minority approved of PAS in some cases, particularly when the patient was elderly.
- physician-assisted suicide
- public opinion
- suicide/assisted suicide
- Received 12 February 2010
- Revised 20 June 2010
- Accepted 8 July 2010
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Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Obtained.
Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the College of Social Sciences, Kuwait University.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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