A study conducted at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center shows that patient trust over their doctors would still be strong even if a law to legalize physician-assisted death were to be enforced in the near future.
The study is based on the results of a telephonic survey conducted among a group of 1,117 adults in the United States. The survey was designed to measure attitudes about physician aid in dying. The participants were required to rate their level of agreement or disagreement using a five-point scale.
The participants were questioned if they would trust their doctors less if they helped patients die. However, the question did not distinguish between physician-assisted suicide, where the physician helps a patient take his or her own life, and euthanasia, where the physician directly administers the lethal dosage.
Nearly 58%of those surveyed (both men and women) had a disagreeing opinion with only a very small percentage (20%) expressing that legalizing euthanasia would cause distrust by blurring the time-honored line between healing and harming.
The researchers have expressed caution that it cannot be taken for granted that legalizing physician-assisted death would not undermine trust in physicians for most people. Furthermore, physicians cannot remain casual, as it is very hard to sustain or regain patient's confidence.
Controversial data with respect to euthanasia and patient trust have been obtained from different regions of the world. In conclusion, it might still be valuable to ban physician-assisted suicide or euthanasia for helping retain patient's trust.