First Advisor

Laurie Powers

Date of Publication

Spring 6-6-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work and Social Research




Oregon. Oregon Death with Dignity Act -- Public opinion, Assisted suicide -- Oregon -- Public opinion, Euthanasia -- Oregon -- Public opinion



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 120 pages)


Oregon voters legalized physician-assisted death in 1997 by passing the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. This law allowed terminally ill, mentally competent adult residents of the state to legally obtain a physician's prescription to hasten death under narrow sets of circumstances. The purpose of this study was twofold: to examine contemporary patterns of support for the law in Oregon and to explore how opinions have changed over time on the issue. This study examined patterns of public support among a random sample of registered Oregon voters for the state's death with dignity law, using a mixed mode (mail, online, and phone) cross-sectional survey (n = 442). The findings indicate a pattern of growing support with potential Oregon voters split 80%-20% on the issue, a substantial increase from the 60%-40% approval margin at the ballot box in 1997. Various demographic variables, as well as attitudinal factors, were explored in building a binary logistic regression model predicting probability of support. Frequency of church attendance, views about physician participation in the process, and opinions about Death with Dignity as an individual right were significant predictors of support. Frequent churchgoers, regardless of denomination or religious tradition, were nearly five times more likely to oppose Death with Dignity than support it, holding all other variables constant. While the findings indicate a pattern of growth in support over the past 15 years, they indicate also a stability of opinion, with few individuals indicating they had changed their opinions about the issue since the first time they encountered it.


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