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J Nurs Res. 2002 Sep;10(3):161-7.

Physicians attitudes toward DNR of terminally ill cancer patients in Taiwan.

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  • 1Department of Nursing, College of Medicine, National Cheng-Kung University.


The purpose of this study was to survey physicians attitudes toward DNR of terminally ill cancer patients in Taiwan. A total of 7626 structured questionnaires were sent by mail to physicians who were members of the Taiwan Society of Internal Medicine and the Surgical Association of Taiwan, and 1328 valid responses were received. The response rate was 17.6%. The instrument, a structured questionnaire, was composed of one scenario and six questions. A majority (77.6%) of the physicians under investigation would tell a terminally ill cancer patient or his family about the possibility of DNR and ask them to consider signing a consent form. Over one half of the physicians (58.4%) did not know whether the Medical Law in Taiwan permits natural death, and 96.1% of the subjects felt they would need legal protection for agreeing patient s autonomy to decide DNR. Unfortunately, 41.2% of the respondent admitted that they did not have a formal Informed Consent Form that could be used for DNR. Even of those who had such a form, only 27.4% had clear guidelines given by their institutions. Among 623 physicians whose institutions had an formal Informed Consent Form for DNR, 63.7% agreed that it was reasonably used. Surprisingly, 67.9% of the physicians had used Slow Codes. The findings of this study served as a solid base. The investigator and other colleagues used it to convince legislators to pass a Natural Death Act in Taiwan. Since some legislators disliked the term death and the main promotes were people engaged in hospice palliative care, the new law entitled Hospice Palliative Act was passed on May 23, 2000. The DNR order finally gained its legal base for medical practice. The limitation of this study was the low response rate. However, since the subjects, physicians, had a busy work load, this was still an acceptable response rate.

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