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Most Would Trust Doctors if Euthanasia Legalized
FRIDAY, Dec. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Legalizing doctor-assisted death wouldn't undermine patients' trust in their physicians, a new study finds.

"Overall, three times as many people disagree as agree that legalizing physician-assisted death would cause them to trust their personal doctors less," researcher Mark Hall, a professor of public health sciences and professor of law at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., said in a prepared statement.

He and his colleagues conducted a telephone survey of 1,117 American adults, who were asked to use a five-point scale to rate their agreement or disagreement with this statement: "Assume for the purpose of this question that euthanasia were legal. If doctors were allowed to help patients die, you would trust your doctor less."

The study found that 58 percent disagreed with the statement and 20 percent said legalizing euthanasia would reduce their trust in their personal physician. Adults aged 65 and older and blacks were more likely than other groups to say that legalized euthanasia would reduce their trust in doctors.

"Despite the widespread concern that legalizing physician-assisted death would seriously threaten or undermine trust in physicians, the weight of evidence in the United States is to the contrary, although views vary significantly," Hall said.

The study appears in the current issue of Medical Ethics.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has information about end-of-life care (www.cancer.gov target=_ new).

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, news release, Dec. 2, 2005

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