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J Med Ethics. 2012 May;38(5):267-73. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2011-100066. Epub 2012 Jan 12.

Older peoples' attitudes towards euthanasia and an end-of-life pill in The Netherlands: 2001-2009.

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Department of Social Medicine, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



With an ageing population, end-of-life care is increasing in importance. The present work investigated characteristics and time trends of older peoples' attitudes towards euthanasia and an end-of-life pill.


Three samples aged 64 years or older from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam (N=1284 (2001), N=1303 (2005) and N=1245 (2008)) were studied. Respondents were asked whether they could imagine requesting their physician to end their life (euthanasia), or imagine asking for a pill to end their life if they became tired of living in the absence of a severe disease (end-of-life pill). Using logistic multivariable techniques, changes of attitudes over time and their association with demographic and health characteristics were assessed.


The proportion of respondents with a positive attitude somewhat increased over time, but significantly only among the 64-74 age group. For euthanasia, these percentages were 58% (2001), 64% (2005) and 70% (2008) (OR of most recent versus earliest period (95% CI): 1.30 (1.17 to 1.44)). For an end-of-life pill, these percentages were 31% (2001), 33% (2005) and 45% (2008) (OR (95% CI): 1.37 (1.23 to 1.52)). For the end-of-life pill, interaction between the most recent time period and age group was significant.


An increasing proportion of older people reported that they could imagine desiring euthanasia or an end-of-life pill. This may imply an increased interest in deciding about your own life and stresses the importance to take older peoples' wishes seriously.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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