Family matters: A social systems perspective on physician-assisted suicide and the older adult

ArticleinPsychology Public Policy and Law 6(2):434-51 · July 2000with14 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.93 · DOI: 10.1037/1076-8971.6.2.434 · Source: PubMed


    Physician-assisted suicide is one of the most controversial issues facing health care providers today, provoking contentious debate that spans medical, psychological, legal, religious, and moral realms. Despite the wealth of theories and opinions proffered, most of this work focuses on concepts of individual competence and autonomy, with little or no attention paid to the dynamics of family or other psychosocial systems likely to affect an individual's decision to ask for assistance in ending his or her life. Moreover, concepts such as "autonomy" typically are examined from a legal perspective without consideration of the late-life developmental themes confronting older adults and their families, that is, the stages of life cycle transition and the predictable family stresses that typically accompany serious illness.