Assisted suicide is a bioethical issue in healthcare services since time immemorial. Most individuals have divided opinions concerning euthanasia (Verpoort, Gastmans & Casterle, 2004). There are several surveys and quantitative studies that have been conducted to determine the views of various individuals regarding assisted suicide. Quantitative research is an empirical study, which incorporates numerical figures in assessing the validity of the hypothesis and answering of research questions. This paper will analyze two quantitative research articles, which include Meier, “A national survey of physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States” by Meier et al. and the “Research priorities relating to the debate on assisted dying: what do we still need to know? Results of a modified Delphi technique” by Rodgers et al. The analysis involves a review of the background of each study, the methods used including variables and limitation of research bias. Besides, the analysis synthesizes the results and ethical considerations of the studies.
First, Meier et al. (1998), surveyed in the survey among physicians who had likely been in constant contact with dying patients as their caretakers. According to Meier et al. (1998), the study was conducted to determine the frequency of assisted suicide requests and the level of compliance. In this way, the authors were able to unravel the validity of the majority believe that euthanasia should be legalized by eliminating the current regulations (p. 1193). Additionally, the authors stated that any regulations regarding assisted suicide should focus on patient and doctors experiences (p. 1193). The significance of the study is further outlined in the survey purpose, which according to Meier et al. (1998), is to assess the frequency of euthanasia requests and the prevalence of compliance to the requests. To fulfill these purposes, Meier et al. (1998), addressed various questions in their study. First, “what is the willingness of the physicians to assist?” Secondly, “what is the frequency of the assistance requests?” Thirdly, “what is the rate of compliance of requests for assistance?” What are the characteristics of the patients who request for assisted suicide? It is evident that even though the authors did not mention or list the research questions at the beginning of their paper, they structured the discussion in a way that was simplified the process of identifying the questions that the survey was set to answer. Additionally, the questions derived from the paper’s discussion are a direct derivation of the paper’s purpose thus emphasizing the focus of the authors to maintain coherence.
Regarding the method of data collection, Meier et al. (1998), used a questionnaire that was administered through the mail. There are certain participants’ benefits that the study addressed. First, anonymity was maintained throughout the investigation on whether one has ever engaged in Euthanasia. This ensured that confidentiality was maintained. Additionally, the authors used mail, which was more flexible and convenient. The participants for the study were selected using age and specialty inclusion criteria where the authors stated that the participants were aged below 65 years and were medical practitioners. It is evident that the participants voluntarily engaged in the practice because the questionnaires were mailed meaning that there was no physical presence to compel the participants. The questionnaire was the primary data collection procedure in the survey as highlighted by the authors who went ahead to motivate participants by sending them incentives of between $2 and $50 for mailing their responses. The data was collected for six weeks where the first response was requested after four weeks, and the second after six weeks. The data management methods identified by the author include sample weights and statistical analyses which involved regression. According to Meier et al. (1998), assisted suicide requests are frequent in the US especially in cases involving specialized physicians with 95% of the participants reporting that they have need requested at least once. Besides, physicians always honor such requests with 34% stating they would prescribe medications to honor such requests. Similarly, 3.3% had written such prescriptions before. Considering the level of confidentiality involved in the study, and the selection or inclusion criteria, I believe that the results are reliable. Even though the authors did not mention limitations, presentation of results was logical. The findings indicate that euthanasia is a common occurrence; thus nurses should be prepared to follow bioethics when faced with such experience. It is essential to commend the authors for presenting their study for review by the Mount Sinai medical school review board. Participant anonymity was also maintained. Additionally, it is evident that the participants engaged in the survey voluntarily because they never were compelled to do so.
Another study by Rodgers et al. (2016), aimed to identify the uncertainties the debate on assisted suicide and provide research priorities for the discussion. In this way, the research seeks to address the problem of divided opinion by guiding problems such as the doctor’s role and patient autonomy. To fulfill this purpose, the study aims to answer the question, “Should assist suicide to be legalized?” the research question is in line with the purpose of the study, which aims to determine whether assisted suicide should be legalized and the role of the patient and the healthcare practitioner in the process. Rodger et al. (2016), collected data from participants using questions, which were accessed through online platforms such as email addresses and websites. This eliminated biases that may arise from treating one group of participants better than others, which may be caused by face to face participating. Besides, participants were allowed to come up with their own set of questions regarding the topic of the survey. This method may have seemed transparent (Verpoort et al., 2004). However, it may have led to biasness in the study because the survey was not conditioned thus making it vulnerable for individuals to suggests their questions and them with biasness (Kuuppelomaki, 2000). The authors did not mention whether any board approved the survey. Another weakness of the study is the fact the authors did not identify the dependent and the independent variables. The questionnaire was used effectively in collecting data, which was the most appropriate method regarding the various locations of the participants, who were never met face to face. The authors used multiple rounds of data collection to engage most participants. For instance, in the first round, 24% of participants responded that they were aware of assisted suicide. In the second round, 26% of the participants responded that they were aware of assisted suicide. The findings show that averagely 30% of people are aware of assisted suicide. This implies that proper public awareness is required. The study also directed future research to prioritize addressing the questions raised in the current research.
Assisted suicide is still a datable topic in public due to various reasons. First people are ignorant about what assisted suicide entails. The debate on whether to legalize it or not should thus take an evidence-based view where opinions are substantiated. This is very critical in the nursing profession given that most nurses are faced with the dilemma frequently when they meet such requests. Nurses still practice complying with requests regarding assisted suicide in areas where it is illegalized such as the UK. A harmonized international law should be enacted to provide universal treatment of such requests globally.