Health care professionals are being confronted with dilemmas about when and if life should be prolonged for the elder. This situation has been intensified because of the development of technology and the aging of the population. The purpose of this descriptive study was to examine nurse practitioners' attitudes toward geriatric euthanasia. Travelbee's Human-to-Human Relationship Model was the theoretical framework for this research. A sample of 47 nurse practitioners in Mississippi who had the probability of caring for the elder participated in this study. Nurse practitioners were asked to complete the Thompson Life- Prolonging Survey in which vignettes describing geriatric patients were presented that required a decision to either endorse or not endorse passive euthanasia. Subjects were asked to agree or disagree with the decision made in the vignettes and also to comment on their responses. Results indicated that of the 187 responses to passive euthanasia/pro-life decisions, 108 (58%) of the nurse practitioners’ choices endorsed passive euthanasia for the elder patient, while 79 (42%) of the nurse practitioners' responses endorsed pro-life. Six common themes were VI identified in the comment section: patient/family wishes, poor quality of life, sanctity of life, death with dignity, scarce resources, and ethics. Based on these findings, the researcher concluded that nurse practitioners' attitudes about euthanasia in the elder patient have not been clearly identified. Results indicate that nursing as a profession needs to address the problems involved with euthanasia. Education about euthanasia will help nurse practitioners, patients, families, and significant others to develop informed attitudes about geriatric euthanasia. Implementation of educational programs about euthanasia and ethical decision-making skills will help nurse practitioners to determine attitudes. Recommendations for further study included the conduction of other research to identify nurse practitioners' attitudes on geriatric euthanasia using another questionnaire in which patient/family wishes were known.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Dr. Mary Patricia Curtis

Second Advisor

Dr. Lynn Chilton

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons