NUI Galway Study Finds Particular Religious Beliefs Influence People’s Attitudes to Euthanasia

Sep 05 2018 Posted: 11:04 IST

: Researchers from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast have found that people’s attachment to particular religious beliefs influenced their attitudes to euthanasia, and their attitudes to euthanasia influenced how they valued health, including health states considered worse than being dead. The study was recently published in the journal, Health and Quality of Life Outcomes.

The researchers collected information on a group of 160 individuals’ religiosity (attachment to religious beliefs) and their attitudes to euthanasia in Ireland, using data collected as part of the Irish EQ-5D-5L valuation study - a study which measures the relative value that Irish residents attach to five different domains of health; mobility, self-care, ability to do usual activities, pain/discomfort and anxiety/depression, measured at different levels of severity.

The study found that individuals who attended religious services frequently were less likely to be in support of a doctor ending a person’s life (euthanasia) due to having a painful incurable disease, in comparison to those who attended religious services less frequently. People who were less likely to support euthanasia were subsequently less likely to consider any health state as being worse than dead, regardless of severity.  

Luke Barry from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway and one of the lead researchers of the study, commented: “Ireland has undergone significant social and cultural changes in recent decades, this research points to the potential ramifications of such changes including in less obvious quarters such as the allocation of healthcare resources.

How we compare alternative uses of healthcare resources, for example, one treatment over another, in terms of their relative value for money is contingent on how we ‘value’ health. Our research highlights that these values appear to be related to our beliefs and attitudes which can change over time.” 

This NUI Galway research adds to the growing literature on the relationship between religious beliefs and health state values, including qualitative work undertaken by UAE University in collaboration with the Office of Health Economics, in Poland and the Netherlands.

The study was funded by the Health Research Board and undertaken in collaboration with the EuroQol Research Foundation and the Office of Health Economics in the UK.

To read the full study in Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, visit:


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