Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
Winter 2016 Return to Outlook main page »

SBMConnect: As Aid-in-Dying Bills Become Law, What is the Role of Health Decision Making?

The SBMConnect blog draws members' attention to ever-changing-and sometimes controversial-issues and news items. Each SBMConnect post briefly explains an issue or news item intended to have salience for our members. Each post is accompanied by a poll to get a sense of where SBM members stand on the topic. Discussion of each topic also takes place on our LinkedIn page.

A recent post, from SBM Health Decision Making Special Interest Group members Marie Chesaniuk, MA; and Lisa Henderson, MS, MA, NCC, LPC-MHSP, asks the question: As Aid-in-Dying Bills Become Law, What is the Role of Health Decision Making?

"California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the 'End of Life Act' on October 5, making it legal for doctors in California to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients who choose to die. Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana have passed similar laws, and 23 other states have aid-in-dying bills in their legislatures.

Rates of desire for death among terminally ill patients vary according to population and assessment methods, but they have been estimated at 17-45%, including fleeting desire to die. These estimates are consistent with the fact that a minority of terminal patients in Oregon request lethal prescriptions. Most, but not all, of these patients go on to use their prescriptions. . . ."

Read the rest and participate in the poll at www.sbm.org/sbmconnect.