BMC Medical Ethics 23 (1):1-16 (2022)

BackgroundThere has been no in-depth research of public attitudes on withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, euthanasia, assisted suicide and physician assisted suicide in Croatia. The aim of this study was to examine these attitudes and their correlation with sociodemographic characteristics, religion, political orientation, tolerance of personal choice, trust in physicians, health status, experiences with death and caring for the seriously ill, and attitudes towards death and dying. MethodsA cross-sectional study was conducted on a three-stage random sample of adult citizens of the Republic of Croatia, stratified by regions, counties, and locations within those counties. In addition to descriptive statistics, ANOVA and Chi-square tests were used to determine differences, and factor analysis, correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis for data analysis.Results38.1% of the respondents agree with granting the wishes of dying people experiencing extreme and unbearable suffering, and withholding life-prolonging treatment, and 37.8% agree with respecting the wishes of such people, and withdrawing life-prolonging treatment. 77% of respondents think that withholding and withdrawing procedures should be regulated by law because of the fear of abuse. Opinions about the practice and regulation of euthanasia are divided. Those who are younger and middle-aged, with higher levels of education, living in big cities, and who have a more liberal worldview are more open to euthanasia. Assisted suicide is not considered to be an acceptable practice, with only 18.6% of respondents agreeing with it. However, 40.1% think that physician assisted suicide should be legalised. 51.6% would support the dying person’s autonomous decisions regarding end-of-life procedures.ConclusionsThe study found low levels of acceptance of withholding or withdrawing life-prolonging treatment, euthanasia, assisted suicide and physician assisted suicide in Croatia. In addition, it found evidence that age, level of education, political orientation, and place of residence have an impact on people’s views on euthanasia. There is a need for further research into attitudes on different end-of-life practices in Croatia.
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DOI 10.1186/s12910-022-00751-6
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