Newman, Richard Blake (2014) How hard is it to die? A small sample of health professionals’ views on voluntary euthanasia. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

A contentious subject voluntary euthanasia (VE) has its share of opponents and proponents alike. Legalising VE in England would not only transform statutory legislation but would also affect end-of-life care, which makes the subject-matter relevant to everyone. Background: Most VE literature comes from an ethical, historical or legal background, with little distinction made between the definitions of euthanasia. Hence, looking at VE from a sociological perspective, exploring these differences and using health professionals' expertise/opinions would make a valuable contribution to the research area. Aims: (i) To report health professionals' views on VE and how they interpret its meaning, as well as how hard they perceive it is for a person to die at their own, autonomous request. (ii) Whether professionals believe euthanasia is the choice of the individual or a form of rationalisation, and (iii) Health professionals' opinions of end-of-life care programmes. Method: A semi-structured qualitative design, where five questions were posed to the participants, codes were then devised using thematic analysis. The sample itself was a convenience sample made up of eight health professionals from a university. Results: A definition of VE was understood and clarified by all eight of the participants, even if at times there was confusion over the term. VE was supported by seven out of the eight participants, with opinion divided on how hard it is to die from VE. Rationalisation and its contradictions were revealed both deliberately and unknowingly, but, in the opinion of most participants this did notaffect individuals' having the right to request VE. Mainstream NHS facilities were believed to struggle with the demand of patients, where hospices in particular were singled out for praise. Religion was seen as having a comforting role to play by all eight participants, even if they did not belong to any particular faith. Conclusion: All participants were aware of the potential risks surrounding VE, with strong support issued for greater choice in end-of-life care and the legalisation of VE. Six out of the eight participants used contradictory statements within their interviews and therein lies the paradox of VE in accordance with this study's findings.

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