Older peoples’ attitudes towards euthanasia and an end-of-life pill in The Netherlands: 2001-2009.

ABSTRACT. Introduction: With an ageing population, end-of-life care is increasing in importance. The present work investigated characteristics and time trends of older peoples'attitudes towards euthanasia and an end-of-life pill. Methods: Three samples aged 64 years or older from the Longitudinal Ageing Study Amsterdam (N=1284 2001, N=1303 2005 and N=1245 2008) were studied. Respondents were asked whether they could imagine requesting their physician to end their life (euthanasia), or imagine asking for a pill to end their life if they became tired of living in the absence of a severe disease (end-of-life pill). Using logistic multivariable techniques, changes of attitudes over time and their association with demographic and health characteristics were assessed. Results The proportion of respondents with a positive attitude somewhat increased over time, but significantly only among the 64e74 age group. For euthanasia, these percentages were 58% 2001, 64% 2005 and 70% 2008 (OR of most recent versus earliest period (95% CI): 1.30 (1.17 to 1.44)). For an end-of-life pill, these percentages were 31% 2001, 33% 2005 and 45% 2008 (OR (95% CI): 1.37 (1.23 to 1.52)). For the end-of-life pill, interaction between the most recent time period and age group was significant. Conclusions: An increasing proportion of older people reported that they could imagine desiring euthanasia or an end-of-life pill. This may imply an increased interest in deciding about your own life and stresses the importance to take older peoples' wishes seriously.