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Regular version of the site

Article

Нормативные взгляды россиян на эвтаназию и смежные практики: поиск детерминант

Социологический журнал. 2019. Т. 25. № 1. С. 72-97.

The aging of the population during the twentieth century sparked a discussion on end-of-life issues and particularly voluntary life termination due to unbearable suffering (euthanasia and related practices). Most of the euthanasia attitude studies have been focused on groups directly involved in end-of-life issues, such as physicians and patients. This article investigates the typical views of common Russians in regard to euthanasia and related practices, and looks for their determinants. A survey of 1201 respondents in 2014 was conducted using a probabilistic sample representing the population of Russia. Measurement of euthanasia justifiability included descriptions of patients’ conditions and types of life termination procedures. Analysis of the results showed that basic values were important predictors of euthanasia justifiability. However, a model derived from international and western research failed to confirm this. Our hypothesis regarding the relations between values of autonomy and justification of euthanasia found only weak support, while benevolence values demonstrated a strong negative effect. Proximity to death showed a negative effect: the fact of caring for sick close ones, as well as one’s own ill-health, were related to a lower justification of euthanasia. Religiosity demonstrated only marginally significant coefficients. Contrary to our hypothesis, interactions between death proximity indicators and trust in physicians and people in general were insignificant. Another unexpected result was a negative link between confidence in the healthcare system and euthanasia justifiability. We attribute these findings to a “priestly” model of care prevalent among Russians; the characteristic structuring of values among Russians, in which care for others contradicts personal autonomy; as well as endorsement of avoidance over approach motivations. In conclusion we list the limitations of the study and point out the weak explanatory power of the models presented.