Association Between Danish Physicians' Religiosity and Spirituality and Their Attitudes Toward End-of-Life Procedures

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  • Christian Balslev van Randwijk
  • Tobias Opsahl
  • Elisabeth Assing Hvidt
  • Bjerrum, Lars
  • Alex Kappel Kørup
  • Niels Christian Hvidt

Several studies in different countries have investigated the influence of physician characteristics (such as ethnicity, gender and personal values) on attitudes in end-of-life (EOL) decision-making. While patients and relatives formally decide about issues related to EOL, the physician often ends up with a pivotal role in the decision-making process. Consequently, the influence of the personal beliefs and values of physicians on decisions in EOL care is central in the clinical encounter. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the religious and spiritual characteristics of Danish physicians are associated with their attitudes toward certain EOL decisions, particularly concerning euthanasia (E), physician-assisted suicide (PAS), sedation into unconsciousness in dying patients (SUDP), and withdrawal of life support. The study is based on a questionnaire that was mailed to 1485 physicians in the Region of Southern Denmark. We found that being more religious meant being more likely to object to E/PAS, with gender also being a significant factor, in that females were more likely to object to E/PAS than males. Being more religious also meant being more likely to object to SUDP. In a medical practice, revolving around patient-centered care, and often linked with ideals of value neutrality, it is important to gain an understanding of the influences of personal values of physicians on attitudes toward several areas of clinical decision-making. This study contributes to the knowledge of, and possible reflections upon, the impact of physicians' personal beliefs and values on their attitudes toward important decisions in their patients' lives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Pages (from-to)2654-2663
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020

ID: 241916998