Elders' Opinions on the Right to Die: Factors that make a Difference



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Given that the elder segment of the United States’ population will soon account for 20% of our overall population, the opinions and welfare of our elders has become increasingly important. This has led to the resurgence of interest in Right to Die laws. With six U.S. states and the District of Columbia having passed right to die laws, which allow physician assisted suicide to be used in specific circumstances, the need for elders’ opinions on the matter arose. This exploratory study has looked into what sociodemographic factors, specifically the increase of age, affect elders’ opinions on physician assisted suicide. Using a Pew Research Data set with descriptive and chi square statistics to analyze bivariate and multivariate interactions within the data set. The data set consisted of a nation wide sample of 690 people age 18 to 99 years old. Age, race, religion and marital status all had significant effects on a person’s opinion of PAS. When controlling for religion age did have a significant interaction with PAS response in the religions of Catholicism and Judaism. The findings from these future studies would greatly contribute to the areas of public policy/legislation, end of life decisions and the right to die movement by informing advocacy groups, state senates, state houses, healthcare providers and our government where regions are standing on PAS and most importantly which segments of the population will change their opinions over time. As the opinions of youth have been proven to be different in certain sociodemographic variables it is important for law makers to know the trends of how these age groups will change, and what segment of the population they possess, so that it can be accounted for when making policy.