Oregon Death with Dignity Act access: 25 year analysis

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Abstract

Objectives: Assisted dying has been legally available in Oregon in the USA for 25 years, since when official reports have been published each year detailing the number of people who have used this option as well as sociodemographic and information about the process. The aim of this study was to examine changes over time in these data. Methods: We collated and reviewed data on 2454 assisted deaths included in annual reports on assisted deaths published by the Oregon Health Authority from 1998 to 2022. Descriptive statistics were used to describe time trends. Results: The number of assisted deaths in Oregon increased from 16 in 1998 to 278 in 2022. Over this time, patients' health funding status changed from predominantly private (65%) to predominantly government support (79.5%), and there was an increase in patients feeling a burden and describing financial concerns as reasons for choosing an assisted death. There has been a reduction in the length of the physician-patient relationship from 18 weeks in 2010 to 5 weeks in 2022, and the proportion referred for psychiatric assessment remains low (1%). Data are frequently missing, particularly around complications. Conclusions: The number and characteristics of people accessing assisted deaths, and the process, have changed since data collection started in 1998. Prospective studies are needed to examine the relationship between socioeconomic factors and the desire for an assisted death in Oregon.

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Regnard, C., Worthington, A., & Finlay, I. (2023). Oregon Death with Dignity Act access: 25 year analysis. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care. https://doi.org/10.1136/spcare-2023-004292

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