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Arch Med Res. 2008 May;39(4):452-8. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2008.01.004.

Physician-assisted death. Opinions of a sample of Mexican physicians.

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Dirección de Investigación and Unidad de Epidemiología Clínica, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, México, D.F., México.



There is insufficient information on what Mexicans think of physician-assisted death, a problem that is currently being discussed in our legislative bodies. This paper discusses the findings among a sample of physicians.


The sample was formed by 2097 physicians from several specialties employed by a Mexican government health system, distributed throughout the country. Each physician received a structured questionnaire exploring what they thought of two different scenarios related to physician-assisted death: 1) intolerable suffering of patients; and 2) persistent vegetative state (PVS). Questions included data on several personal characteristics of the respondents and two open-ended questions asking the reasons why they answered the main questions as they did.


There was an overall response rate of 47.3%. Approximately 40% agreed with physicians helping terminally ill patients request to die because of intolerable suffering caused by incurable diseases, whereas 44% said no and the rest were undecided. This was statistically different from the answers to the scenario where the relatives of a patient in a PVS ask their physician to help him or her die, where 48% of respondents said yes, and 35% said no. The main reasons to say yes in both scenarios were respect for patients or family autonomy and to avoid suffering, whereas those opposed cited other ethical and mainly religious considerations.


The variable with the highest probability to approve both scenarios was of a legal nature, whereas strong religious beliefs were against accepting physician-assisted death. The group was evenly divided with approximately 40% each between those for and against the idea of helping die a patient and approximately 20% were undecided.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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