Attachment styles of Oregonians who request physician-assisted death

Robert L. Oldham, Steven K. Dobscha, Elizabeth R. Goy, Linda Ganzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Qualitative analyses suggest that requests for physician-assisted death (PAD) may often be the culmination of a person's lifelong pattern of concern with issues such as control, autonomy, self-sufficiency, distrust of others, and avoidance of intimacy. Such characteristics may be measured by attachment style. We compared family members' reports of attachment style in Oregonians who did and did not request PAD. Method: Eighty-four family members of terminally ill patients who requested PAD before death and 63 members of a comparison group that included family members of terminally ill Oregonians who died without requesting PAD rated their loved ones' attachment style in a one-time survey. Results: Individuals who requested PAD were most often described as having dismissive personality styles (56%) compared to 41% of comparison individuals, and on continuous measures of relational style, the highest mean score among PAD requesters was for dismissive style. There were marginally significant differences in the proportions of each attachment style when comparing the two groups (p=0.08).Significance of results: Patients' attachment styles may be an important factor in requests for PAD. Recognition of a patient's attachment style may improve the ability of the physician to maintain a constructive relationship with the patient throughout the dying process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-128
Number of pages6
JournalPalliative and Supportive Care
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011

Keywords

  • Attachment styles
  • Oregon Death with Dignity Act
  • Physician-assisted death
  • Terminally ill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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