The 2010 and 2007 British Social Attitude (BSA) surveys found that the British public supports assisted dying.
- 2010: 82% of the general public believe that a doctor should probably or definitely be allowed to end the life of a patient with a painful incurable disease at the patient's request (1).
- 2007: 80% agreed that a person with a terminal and painful illness from which they will die should be allowed an assisted death (2).
Analysis of the 2010 BSA revealed that the majority of religious people supported assisted dying. This is the first detailed breakdown of attitudes of people with religious and non-religious beliefs on assisted dying in recent times.
- 71% of religious people and 92% of non-religious people agreed that a doctor should probably or definitely be allowed to end the life of a patient with a painful incurable disease at the patient's request (1).
The 2007 British Social Attitudes survey found that disabled people are overwhelmingly supportive of assisted dying.
- 75% of people with a disability believed that a person with a terminal and painful illness from which they will die should be allowed an assisted death (2).
Research shows us that a small majority of doctors are opposed to assisted dying. Religious belief and specialism influence their views.
- Clive Seale found that 64% of doctors (palliative care specialists, GPs etc.) agreed and 34% disagreed that a person with an incurable and painful disease, from which they will die should not be allowed by law to end their life (3). Doctors who worked in palliative medicine where more likely to be opposed to assisted dying. This study used the same wording as that used in the 2007 BSA survey.
- Lee et al found that 49% of GPs and consultants were opposed and 39% were in favour of a change in law to permit assisted dying (4).
(1) McAndrew S (2010) Religious faith and contemporary attitudes, in Park A, Curtice J, Thomson K, Phillips A, Clery E, Butt S (eds) British Social Attitudes: 2009-2010. The 26th Report London, Sage: 87-113
(2) Clery E, McLean S, Phillips M (2007) Quickening death: the euthanasia debate, in Parks A, Curtice J, Thomson K, Phillips M and Johnson M (eds.) British Social Attitudes: the 23rd report - perspectives on a changing society London, Sage: 35-54
(3) Seale (2009) Legalisation of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide: survey of doctor's attitudes Palliative Medicine 23: 205-12
(4) Lee W, Price A, Rayner L and Hotopf M (2009) Survey of doctors' opinions of the legalisation of physician assisted suicide BMC Medical Ethics 10 (2) doi: 10.1186/1472-6939-10-2