Surgical residents and staff oncologists (surgical, medical, and radiation therapy) have similar opinions on participation in physician-assisted death for patients with terminal cancer.
Tertiary care referral center.
Residents undergoing surgical training (n = 56) and faculty oncologists (n = 24) of all specialties (surgical, medical, and radiation therapy).
Main Outcome Measures
Subjects were queried regarding previous experience and willingness to participate (either directly or indirectly) in assisted death for terminal cancer patients.
Response rates were 39% (22 of 56) for the residents and 87% (21 of 24) for the oncologists. Of those who responded, 86% (19 of 22) of the residents would aid any of the hypothetical patients with assisted death, whereas only 19% (4 of 21) of the staff oncologists expressed willingness to perform the same service. Furthermore, 32% (7 of 22) of the residents reported previous involvement in a case of assisted death from any disease, whereas only 19% (4 of 21) of the staff oncologists reported previous direct experience with assisted death in the terminal cancer patient.
Surgical residents tend to have more experience with assisted death and are much more willing than staff oncologists to aid terminal cancer patients with this procedure. These opinions and practices are probably not the result of medical education but are developed from personal values.