Assisted dying and voluntary euthanasia: awareness and perception among health care professionals in a tertiary care centre, South India

Ashutosh Kothari, K. C. Premarajan, Sethuramachandran Adinarayanan


Background: On March 2018, the supreme court of India adjudicated passive euthanasia legal which was termed as obsolete by Indian Council of Medical Research. There are varied opinions because of difference in terminologies used in the country. As per the current Indian legislations, the procedure of voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying is illegal. Hence, this study aims in understanding the awareness and perception towards the same.   

Methods: A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted among all the 369 health care professionals employed in the selected departments of a tertiary care institute during the study period. The questionnaire used was content validated and pre-tested before administering it to the participants. It consisted of five domains (in a five-point Likert scale) and were summarized as proportions.

Results: Most of the doctors (64%) and nurses (59.3%) said that euthanasia is illegal in India. About one fourth of the responders encountered a situation where the patient asked for assisted dying or voluntary euthanasia. A total of 65.3% of the participants agreed that it is helping the patient to die and not killing them.

Conclusions: The study demonstrated that the health care professionals had favourable responses for half of the statements. Re-looking into the verdict by the supreme court of India, standardising the terminologies and advocating for ‘advance medical directive’ would be welcoming steps in deciding the future of assisted dying/voluntary euthanasia in the country.


Assisted dying, Voluntary euthanasia, Perception, Awareness, Passive euthanasia

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