Attitudes, perceptions, and knowledge of the population on End-of-Life and Advance Treatment Declaration: an observational study in Southern Italy


In an advanced scientific and technological context, where it is now tangible the possibility of interfering indefinitely in the process of dying, it becomes necessary to disseminate knowledge about end of life that, for the great variety of areas that it invests, presents many controversial aspects. With the Law no. 219/2017, the right of self-determination and freedom of treatment of the patient is enshrined, aspects that to date still remain too little discussed. An online survey was conducted from December 2019 to February 2020, among the population residing in the provinces of Lecce and Brindisi, spread thanks to the collaboration of local authorities. A large part of the sample (82.4%, N=333) claims the right to self-determination, stating that therapeutic decisions are up to the patient who has signed his advance treatment dispositions, declared absolutely binding for 50% (N=205) of the sample. However, there is still a lack of information about how to draw up advance treatment agreements (AADs). 12.6% (N=51) of those interviewed stated that they knew nothing about it and only 32.9% (N=133) felt ready and adequately informed to make their own declarations. Another peculiar aspect is that topics such as euthanasia and assisted suicide seem to be considered at the margins of acceptability among End-of-Life instances. The results of the study show that knowledge on the subject has definitely improved over the years and that in most of the issues addressed, the population has an adequate degree of preparedness even though there is still some skepticism in dealing with issues such as assisted suicide and euthanasia. Future research could explore the possibility of identifying effective training tools and communication strategies that can be used by the widest possible segment of the population.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i25327518v5i1p49

Keywords: End of life; Self-determination; Training; Information; Advance directive on treatment

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