Live or let die : perceptions of Canadian psychologists on assisted death

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Karesa, Sarah
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Education
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Education
This thesis investigated, through an online survey, (a) the opinions of Canadian registered psychologists on the practice of assisted death, (b) the demographic factors that predict these responses, (c) the knowledge that Canadian psychologists have surrounding assisted death, and (d) the confidence this population has in their abilities and training for assessing competency in those who request assisted death. This research topic is of significant value given that there has been no published data on this topic specific to this target population. In total, 97 participants were recruited from the Canadian Psychological Association Research Portal, Facebook advertising, and provincial and territorial psychological associations. Descriptive and nonparametric statistics were used. The data demonstrated that studied psychologists support physician-assisted death for terminal, but not mental, illness. This support was related to the presence of several demographic variables including religion, professional specialty, and number of years as a registered psychologist. Studied psychologists had limited confidence in their ability to assess the competency of terminally ill individuals. As a result, participants expressed an interest in professional training. Psychologists, in this thesis research, appeared to have limited knowledge regarding the practices that constitute assisted death. This was demonstrated to be inconsistent with the results found in the literature. Implications for this study include a new perspective being added to the debate on assisted death as well recognition that psychologists may have an important role to play in the legalization and regulation of these controversial practices. Future directions for research, policy, and professional development are provided.
psychologist , assisted death , euthanasia , perception , survey