THE ARTICLE by Shapiro et al1 that appears in this issue of the Archives is very important and timely. It provides clues to the attitudes among American physicians on active euthanasia, a controversial and much debated issue. Few studies have attempted to survey physicians on this topic. Of the three studies2-4 with which we are familiar, only one4 addressed active euthanasia and examined the opinions of a heterogeneous group of medical practitioners.
The authors should be commended for the development of an excellent survey instrument, statistical analyses, and the ability to successfully obtain results from a large number of physicians representing multiple specialties and diverse ethical and religious preferences. The overall pattern of the responding physicians is generally consistent with the population of Wisconsin physicians for gender, medical specialty, and age. The possibility of substantial bias among respondents cannot be excluded. However, approximately one third of physicians completed
Carlson RW, Anwar MS. Wisconsin Physicians and Euthanasia. Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(5):501-502. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420050039004