I want to become a client

Alberta Patients’ Views on Physician Assisted Death

(EDMONTON) Alberta patients offer high levels of support for physician-assisted death and for the draft guidelines being developed to facilitate the practice in Alberta, according to a recent survey conducted by albertapatients. Indeed, the March 2016 survey reveals that if faced with a grievous and irremediable medical condition, fewer than one-in-five would not consider physician-assisted dying themselves. The poll also reveals that Alberta patients have strong feelings regarding the manner and location of physician-assisted death.


Detailed findings from the survey include:


  • There is strong public approval for physician-assisted death (PAD) among patients in Alberta
    • 4-in-5 patients approve of allowing PAD in some circumstances
    • More than 3-in-5 patients feel comfortable with PAD being introduced in Canada, having either few or no concerns about it


  • Fewer than one-in-five Alberta patients say they would not consider PAD for themselves if circumstances warranted
    • Fully 39% say they would consider it, while 37% say they might/might not, but would like the option available to them


  • Views on physician-assisted death are influenced by gender and household composition
    • More women (69%) than men (55%) have deliberated the issue, and more women approve of assisted-death than men (83% vs. 76%)
    • Patients with children living at home have more reservations about PAD – 29% are specifically uncomfortable with the idea (compared to 23% discomfort among patients in general), and 23% would not consider PAD for themselves (compared to 17% of all patients)
    • When asked how much they approve of Canada moving to allow PAD in some circumstances, 1-in-4 patients with children at home say they disapprove, compared to 18% of all patients


  • Most patients in Alberta agree with the draft guidelines established to govern who can access PAD and how each request is evaluated
    • There is public support for the draft guidelines established for patient competence: 77% either strongly or somewhat agree with the current draft guidelines, with particular support for consulting with two physicians and maintaining understanding and decision-making capacity throughout the physician-assisted death process (83% agreement for each statement)


  • Patients have specific views about how and where PAD should be performed
    • More than 4-in-5 who might consider PAD in the case of terminal illness and/or intolerable pain would feel comfortable being assisted by a physician who specializes in palliative or end-of-life care, compared to only 54% comfort with death assisted by a family physician
    • 90% feel at least somewhat strongly about dying in a location of their choosing, such as their own home


  • A majority (56%) of Alberta patients believe in an afterlife, although a plurality (29%) of those interviewed have no certain views on what happens to people after they die: 21% say they simply “stop existing”, 17% believe they go to “Heaven or Hell” depending on how they have lived, 9% say they go to “Heaven”, 8% somewhere else, and 7% believe in reincarnation

To view the details of these results and methodology, follow the link: Patient Views on Physician-Assisted Death


Survey Methodology

These are findings of an albertapatients.ca survey conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association. The Study was fielded via a representative online research panel sample (albertapatients supplemented with Voice of Alberta panel sample to fill stratified demographic quotas) between March 17th – 27th, 2016. Participants are Alberta residents over the age of 18, and the sample has been weighted to reflect the gender, age and regional distribution of Albertans who have used the healthcare system within the past 12 months. A total of 1508 interviews were conducted for the survey. The online methodology utilizes a representative but non-random sample therefore margin of error is not applicable. However, a probability sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points. This study was designed and conducted in response to interest expressed by albertapatients community members.


About albertapatients


These findings are drawn from research conducted on behalf of the Alberta Medical Association for its albertapatients initiative – an online community that provides Albertans the opportunity to provide input and feedback into the province’s health care system, and help shape the future of health care in Alberta through regular professionally executed survey research. This initiative also acts as a conduit for Alberta’s doctors to update patients about what’s going on in health care delivery, and report on findings from the survey research.


ThinkHQ Public Affairs Inc. is a Canadian-based independent public opinion consultancy, and is the Alberta Medical Association’s research partner in the operation of albertapatients.ca.






Shannon Rupnarain

Assistant Executive Director, Public Affairs

Alberta Medical Association




Marc Henry

President, ThinkHQ Public Affairs, Inc.