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Open Access Research article

Attitudes towards euthanasia in severely ill and dementia patients and cremation in Cyprus: a population-based survey

Anastasios Televantos1, Michael A Talias2, Marianna Charalambous2 and Elpidoforos S Soteriades13*

Author Affiliations

1 Cyprus Institute of Biomedical Sciences (CIBS), Athienitis Strovolos Park, 2A Elia Venezi Street, 2nd Fl. Office 206, 2042, Strovolos, Nicosia, Cyprus

2 Open University of Cyprus, Healthcare Management Program, 2252, Latsia, Nicosia, Cyprus

3 Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Environmental Health, Environmental and Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology (EOME), Boston, MA, USA

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:878  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-878

Published: 23 September 2013

Abstract

Background

Population studies on end-of-life decisions have not been conducted in Cyprus. Our study aim was to evaluate the beliefs and attitudes of Greek Cypriots towards end-of-life issues regarding euthanasia and cremation.

Methods

A population-based telephone survey was conducted in Cyprus. One thousand randomly selected individuals from the population of Cyprus age 20 years or older were invited to participate. Beliefs and attitudes on end-of-life decisions were collected using an anonymous and validated questionnaire. Statistical analyses included cross-tabulations, Pearson’s chi-square tests and multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models.

Results

A total of 308 males and 689 females participated in the survey. About 70% of the respondents did not support euthanasia for people with incurable illness and/or elders with dementia when requested by them and 77% did not support euthanasia for people with incurable illness and/or elders with dementia when requested by relatives. Regarding cremation, 78% were against and only 14% reported being in favor. Further statistical analyses showed that male gender, being single and having reached higher educational level were factors positively associated with support for euthanasia in a statistically significant fashion. On the contrary, the more religiosity expressed by study participants, the less support they reported for euthanasia or cremation.

Conclusions

The vast majority of Greek Cypriots does not support euthanasia for people with incurable illness and/or elders with dementia and also do not support cremation. Certain demographic characteristics such as age and education have a positive influence towards attitudes for euthanasia and cremation, while religiosity exerts a strong negative influence on the above. Family bonding as well as social and cultural traditions may also play a role although not comprehensively evaluated in the current study.

Keywords:
Euthanasia; Cremation; Religion; Population survey; Cyprus