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Questions of Euthanasia

On 15 October Elena Yureneva, MD, Executive Director of the Discerning Health, health worker of Community Development International, senior researcher at clinical safety of Merck Clinical Research Team Management (Pennsylvania, USA) took part in the «Culture matters» research seminar with the report on "Questions of Euthanasia".

For modern society the problem of death is very controversial and complex. Today, technological advances allow us to make death a subject of personal choice and to this fact in different countries people treat it largely on their own. So, in some countries some forms of euthanasia are legal, while in others the performing of any action (or inaction) aimed at depriving patients of life is prohibited. The idea of euthanasia has many aspects that can explain these opposite positions from different sides: cultural, ethical, religious, psychological, financial, etc.

Euthanasia can be either voluntary or involuntary (based on the decision of relatives, custodians, etc. without the patient’s consent). Also there are two types of euthanasia: active euthanasia (for example, the injection of medicinal preparations that cause quick and painless death of a dying person) and passive euthanasia (for example, the deliberate stopping of medical treatment).

In the USA the practice of passive euthanasia is widely distributed, while active euthanasia is legally permitted in 6 states only. According to Press Ganey survey carried out in 2014 euthanasia is supported by 75% of the U.S. population. In Russia euthanasia is completely outlawed, and the data of the survey of the Public Opinion Foundation carried out in 2012 presented only 32% of public support.

According to the speaker such different attitudes to euthanasia in Russia and the USA can be explained by the influence of culture.

During the discussion of the report, the laboratory staff suggested possible cultural factors in this relationship (for example, different visions of death) and offered options for the research tools that can be used by the reporter in the future study.