Religious beliefs affect end-of-life care decisions
Non-religious doctors are nearly twice as willing to making decisions that speed up a patient’s death as those who hold a deep faith, according to new research.
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Those with no religious beliefs were also more likely to discuss treatments which hastened death with seriously ill patients, the survey of almost 4,000 British doctors revealed.
As part of the study, doctors from a wide range of specialities - including those relating to end of life care - were asked for their views on patients’ death.
Doctors were asked about their religious views and their care of the last patient who died, as well as details about decisions they may have taken that were expected, or partly intended to, end life.
The findings, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, revealed that the ethnicity of the doctor was largely unrelated to whether they took controversial decisions.
But doctors who described themselves as non-religious were more likely than any other group to have given continuous deep sedation until death, having taken a decision they knew could or would end life.
And those doctors who described themselves as “extremely” or “very non-religious” were almost twice as likely to have taken these kinds of decisions as those with a strong religious belief.