Nursing students' approaches toward euthanasia
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Background: In Turkey, which is a secular, democratic nation with a majority Muslim population, euthanasia is illegal and regarded as murder. Nurses and students can be faced with ethical dilemmas and a lack of a legal basis, with a conflict of religious beliefs and social and cultural values concerning euthanasia. The aim of this study was to investigate undergraduate nursing students' attitudes towards euthanasia. Method: The study, which had a descriptive design, was conducted with 600 students. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year nursing students at a school of nursing were contacted in May 2009, and 383 students (63.8% of the study population of a total of 600 students) gave informed consent. Two tools were used in accordance with questionnaire preparation rules. Results: The majority of students were female and single (96.9%), and their mean age was 21.3 +/- 1.5 years. A majority (78.9%) stated they had received no training course/education on the concept of euthanasia. Nearly one-third (32.4%) of the students were against euthanasia; 14.3% of the students in the study agreed that if their relatives had an irreversible, lethal condition, passive euthanasia could be performed. In addition, 24.8% of the students agreed that if they themselves had an irreversible, lethal condition, passive euthanasia could be performed. Less than half (42.5%) of the students thought that discussions about euthanasia could be useful. There was a significant relation between the study year and being against euthanasia (p < 0.05), the idea that euthanasia could be abused (p < 0.05), and the idea that euthanasia was unethical (p < 0.05). Conclusion: It was concluded that the lack of legal regulations, ethical considerations, religious beliefs, and work experience with dying patients affect nursing students' attitudes towards euthanasia.