228206 A Comparison of the APHA Debate on Physician-Assisted Suicide with the Results of a Focus Group with Oregonians with Disabilities

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 5:24 PM - 5:42 PM

Charles Drum, JD, PhD , Center on Community Accessibility, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Glen W. White, PhD , Research and Training Center on Independent Living, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Genia Taitano, MPH , John A. Burns School of Medicine, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu, HI
Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD , Center on Community Accessibility, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Background and Importance Physician-assisted suicide (PAS), legal in Oregon since 1998, is a controversial subject among the disability community, engendering significant discussion and debate. In 2008, APHA adopted a resolution endorsing PAS. In 2010, the Disability and Health Journal published a special issue examining PAS, including results of a focus group with Oregonians with disabilities. The purpose of this session is to compare and contrast the debate over the APHA resolution with the opinions about PAS expressed by the Oregon focus group.

Methods & Results Krahn's (2010) description of the APHA debate served as an organizing rubric for the comparison. Krahn's framework includes: “A Range of Views;” “It's Personal;” “Confusion With Key Concepts;” “Wanting it for Myself;” “Control Versus Pain;” and the “Slippery Slope.” The Oregon focus group, 12 participants with physical or sensory disabilities, were asked their opinions about PAS, fear of undue influence, reasons PAS is used, PAS as choice, etc. Basic content analysis methods were used to review the focus group results within the Krahn framework. A high degree of fit was established. For example, focus group participants had a range of opinions on PAS: in favor, in opposition, and positions changed over time. Likewise, PAS was viewed as a choice issue not a pain issue. Similar congruence was found with each element of the Krahn framework.

Conclusion The PAS debate at APHA reflected focus group opinions of PAS implementation in Oregon. Future debate of PAS should reflect the range of opinions among the disability community.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
At session’s end, participants will be able to: 1. Describe the lessons learned about the debate on PAS at APHA 2. List some of the focus group opinions about PAS 3. Compare the lessons learned with the focus group opinions

Keywords: Disability, Death

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I oversee programs in disability and health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.