1998 to 2022 Saw Rise in Number Seeking Assisted Death in Oregon

In HealthDay News
by Healthday

Authors note that much information is missing on the consultation and decision-making processes

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Over the 25 years that Oregon has offered assisted death, there have been shifts in the volume and sociodemographics of the patient population, according to a study published online Oct. 3 in BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

Claud Regnard, M.B.Ch.B., from St. Oswald’s Hospice in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, and colleagues examined data on 2,454 assisted deaths included in annual reports on assisted deaths published by the Oregon Health Authority (1998 to 2022) to characterize trends.

The researchers found that the number of assisted deaths in Oregon increased from 16 in 1998 to 278 in 2022. Patients’ insurance status changed from predominantly private (65 percent) to predominantly government support (79.5 percent) over time. Relatedly, there was an increase in patients feeling a burden and describing financial concerns as reasons for choosing an assisted death. The reported length of the physician-patient relationship declined from 18 weeks in 2010 to five weeks in 2022. The proportion of assisted deaths referred for psychiatric assessment remained low (1 percent). Data regarding complications, especially around decision-making, drug efficacy, and the nature of palliative care support, were missing or not collected.

“Oregon’s changing trends in assisted dying require detailed prospective studies examining how socioeconomic factors influence the wish for an assisted death,” the authors write.

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