Almost 50 per cent of nursing staff agree that euthanasia should be offered to patients who are suffering, but less than half of them would actively participate in carrying out the process, a recent survey has shown.
Some 49 per cent of the Cyprus nurses and midwives association responded in the affirmative when questioned about the possibility of death assisted by health professionals for people who are suffering.
The scientific supervisor of the survey, senior vice chancellor of the university of Nicosia Professor Constantinos Fellas addressed the presentation highlighting the necessity to re-examine the way we deal with death in our daily lives.
The survey, presented by the national bioethics committee of Cyprus in collaboration with the nurses and midwives association and the University of Nicosia, aimed to collect and provide data on the attitudes of the community of nurses regarding euthanasia.
It was conducted between February and March this year with 520 members of the Cynma aged 18 to 65 responding to the self-completed questionnaire.
In total, 49 per cent of respondents agree or somewhat agree with the view that people who are suffering should be given the option of euthanasia. Another 47 per cent said the association should support all efforts to legislate the practice, while 38 per cent are in favour of the association supporting efforts to change legislation to allow doctors to administer relevant drugs to patients who meet the necessary conditions.
However, only 23 per cent said they would actively participate in any way in the process if euthanasia were legally permitted in the future, while 31 per cent said they did not know or did not want to answer.
Regarding the role of nurses in this process in a future change of legislation, participants were able to choose more than one proposal for this purpose. In total, 42 per cent supported the view that nurses should be able to provide evidence-based information to patients about the change in legislation, while 31 per cent said nurses should be able to confirm and clarify in each case when their own patients meet the criteria for euthanasia, assisted suicide or death by health professionals.
Another 36 per cent supported the view that nurses should have no formal role in the process.
Fourty-eight percent of participants supported the idea of change in legislation allowing doctors to administer drugs with the intention of ending patients’ lives for those with a physical condition that causes unbearable suffering which cannot be relieved. The oprion of euthanasia for patients with a terminal illness where death is expected within 6 months came in second with 31 per cent of participants in support of it.
Participants supported the right to choose such a procedure to be offered to all patients who fullfill relevant criteria (31 per cent) and to patients who meet all relevant conditions but are physically unable to self-administer such drugs themselves (29 per cent).
Six out of ten participants (61 per cent) supported that nurses should independently have the right to choose not to participate in this procedure.