The Physician-Assisted Suicide Policy Dilemma: A Pilot Study of the Views and
Experiences of Connecticut Physicians .
H. I. Schwartz, L. Curry, K. Blank and C. Gruman,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
27(4): 527-539, 1999.
Development of fully informed public policy regarding physician-assisted suicide
(PAS) requires a thorough understanding of the experiences, attitudes, and beliefs of physicians
with respect to this issue. This study gathered data on physician characteristics, attitudes toward
PAS, factors influencing attitudes toward PAS, and sensitivity to the role of depression in a
sample of 397 psychiatrists, internists, and family practitioners in Connecticut. Central
considerations included: the influence of religious values, professional discipline and practice
patterns, and ability to diagnose depression in a single evaluation. Psychiatrists were significantly
more likely to be supportive of PAS than were internists or family practitioners. Most respondents
expressed concern regarding the influence of depression on PAS requests. A subset of physicians
endorse PAS yet do not share such concern about risks, suggesting substantial challenges for