Cognitive Attributions, Depressive Symptoms and Hopelessness as Predictors of Perceived Desirability of Physician-Assisted Suicide in Alzheimer's Caregivers

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This study compared attitudes towards physicianassisted suicide in two groups of older persons, 57-caregivers of relatives with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and 46-non-caregivers. A series of two-way ANOVAs by caregiver status and level of depressive symptoms compared hopelessness scores, attribution styles, and beliefs about physician-assisted suicide. Two attributional style scales were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. Subjects who felt less in control of the stresses in their lives reported more depressive symptoms (F = 10.16, p = .002). Subjects who felt that the factors causing stress were unchangeable also reported significantly more depressive symptoms (F = 5.41, p = .022). Over twothirds of both groups believed assisted suicide was a rational decision in some circumstances, but 40 percent of caregivers and only 24 percent of non-caregivers believed physicians should assist patients in committing suicide.

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American Journal of Alzheimer's Disease & Other Dementias, v. 14, issue 3, p. 165-171