Table 1 Physician-assisted dying in potentially vulnerable groups in Oregon and the Netherlands: overview of data from Oregon reports and studies, and Dutch nationwide and focused studies
Oregon—PAS patients 1998–2006Netherlands*— PAS/euthanasia patients 2005 (n = 2400)
Potentially vulnerable groupCharacteristicNo. (%)Rate ratioCharacteristicNo. (%)Rate ratio
Findings based on direct data
The elderly (age in years)18–4411 (4)3.40–64900 (38)1.7
45–6483 (28)3.265–79950 (39)1.7
65–84170 (58)2.380+550 (23)1.0
85 +28 (10)1.0
Median 70 (range 25–96)
WomenMale157 (54)1.1Male1350 (56)1.3
Female135 (46)1.0Female1050 (44)1.0
Uninsured peoplePrivate insurance180 (62)Not applicable (all are insured)
Medicare or Medicaid105 (36)
No insurance3 (1)
Status unknown4 (1)
People with AIDSHIV/AIDS†6 (2)30.3HIV/AIDS‡29 (22)7.9
Findings based on partly direct and partly inferential data
People with low educational status<High school25 (9)1.0Indirect data (via SES); no direct relationship
HS graduate82 (28)1.8
Some college64 (22)3.2
Baccalaureate or higher121 (41)7.6
The poor (people with low SES)Rate low¶Low SES§1400 (38)1.0
Moderate SES1200 (33)1.0
High SES800 (22)1.2
Institutions§300 (8)0.3
Racial and ethnic minoritiesWhite284 (97)1.0No data (Dutch mortality statistics are not kept by race)
African-American0 (0%)
Hispanic1 (<1%)0.4
Native American1 (<1%)0.5
Asian6 (2)1.8
People with chronic physical or mental disabilities or chronic non-terminal illnessesNot legal; no cases reported or identifiedNo data to calculate denominator; probably 10 cases or fewer per year
MinorsNot legal; no cases reported or identified1.6% of all deaths of minors aged 1–16 years
Findings based on inferential or partly contested data
People with psychiatric illness, including depression and Alzheimer diseaseNot legal; no clear cases; three disputed cases among those given prescription (n = 456)No data to calculate denominator; increased requests among cancer patients with depression; probably rare for psychiatric illness as main diagnosis; legal in Alzheimer disease with advance euthanasia directive but compliance rare
  • *All estimates are based upon data about a sample of 9000 deaths from August to November 2005, unless indicated otherwise; 2005 data are used for simplicity. Data are roughly comparable for entire period studied. Also see van der Heide et al, 2007.17

  • †Referent is chronic lower respiratory disorder.

  • ‡Estimate based upon prevalence study from early 1990s.

  • ¶Indirect data (via educational level and insuredness).

  • §Estimates based upon 2001 nationwide study; also see Onwuteaka-Philipsen et al, 2003.16

  • LAWER, life-ending acts without explicit current request; PAS, physician-assisted suicide; SES, socioeconomic status.