Table 1 “Yes” answers given by doctors in Victoria in 2004 to questions concerning end-of-life decisions and voluntary euthanasia, compared with results from 1987 (Victoria) and 1993 (NSW/ACT) surveys
Question (paraphrased in some cases for space reasons)Victoria 1987 %NSW/ACT 1993 %Victoria 2004 % (95% CI)
Profile of respondents(n = 854)
General practitioner*4542
Do your views about the morality of euthanasia derive from a religious faith?16*20 (17.3–22.5)
Have you treated terminally ill patients aged 12 years or older?829383 (80.5–85.3)
Are requests for hastening of death sometimes reasonable, in the circumstances?93†96†
Are requests for withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment sometimes reasonable?94 (92.0–95.2)
Are requests for administering of lethal drugs sometimes reasonable?65 (61.8–68.0)
Has a patient ever asked you to hasten his or her death?48†47†
Has a patient ever asked you to hasten his or her death by withdrawal or withholding of treatment?59 (55.8–62.8)
Has a patient ever asked you to administer medication to hasten his or her death?‡43 (39.2–46.2)
Of those who have been asked to hasten death(n = 434)
Faced with a request would you discuss it with:
    other doctors?677572 (67.9–75.9)
    relatives?757979 (75.3–82.7)
    nursing staff?706466 (61.4–70.0)
    a religious adviser?263314 (11.1–17.5)
Have you ever taken steps to bring about death?29†28†
Have you, at a patient’s request, withdrawn/withheld life-sustaining treatment?§76 (71.5–79.5)
Have you, at a patient’s request, administered medication with the intention of hastening death?**35 (30.2–40.6)
Do you regard any of your actions that hastened death as euthanasia?27 (22.7–30.7)
If you did hasten death at least once, do you still feel you did the right thing?989394 (91.4–96.4)
Has illegality been a factor in refusing to hasten a patient’s death?65†52†
Have you ever refused a patient’s request that his or her death be hastened on the grounds that it is illegal to act on such a request?60 (55.9–64.9)
Have you ever refused a request for hastening of death that you would have agreed to if it were legal to provide such assistance?25 (21.3–29.3)
For all respondents(n = 854)
Do you support the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia?605853 (50.2–56.6)
Do you support the legalisation of physician assisted suicide?46
Do you believe that PAS is preferable to doctors administering lethal drugs?††37 (33.6–39.8)
Would you practice voluntary euthanasia if it was legal?4050
If it were legal to assist certain patients to die, would you be willing to:
    prescribe lethal drugs?40 (37.3–43.5)
    both prescribe and administer lethal drugs?‡‡28 (24.7–30.5)
  • Affirmative responses are reported as a proportion of all respondents, not just those answering the question. The rate of missing data was less than 2% for all except two questions, as noted.

  • *The published paper does not provide the relevant statistic; †several questions in the 1987 and 1993 surveys that were ambiguously phrased with regard to “hastening death” were disambiguated in the 2004 survey to distinguish between withdrawal of treatment and administration of drugs; ‡708 respondents had treated terminally ill patients (2004 survey); §420 respondents had received such a request (2004 survey); ** 302 had received such a request (2004 survey); ††37.6% of respondents did not answer this question (2004 survey); ‡‡3.8% of respondents did not to answer this question (2004 survey).

  • –, question not in survey; NEW/ACT, New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory; PAS, physician-assisted suicide.