In this review of empirical studies, researcher aimed to assess the influence of religion and world view on nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. Most identified studies showed a clear relationship between religion or world view and nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia or physician assisted suicide. Differences in attitude were found to be influenced by religious or ideological affiliation, observance of religious practices, religious doctrines, and personal importance attributed to religion or world view. Nevertheless, a coherent comparative interpretation of the results of the identified studies was difficult. Researchers concluded that no study has so far exhaustively investigated the relationship between religion or world view and nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia or physician assisted suicide and that further research is required.
Based on the investigation, the majority of the articles identified support the hypothesis that nurses’ attitudes towards euthanasia and physician assisted suicide are influenced by religion and world view. Attributing more importance to religion also seems to make agreement with euthanasia and physician assisted suicide less likely. Roman Catholics were more often against euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. These conclusions are, however, very general and do not pay due attention to the many difficulties related to interpretation of the phenomena religion and world view. The poor operationalization of religion and world view in the studies negatively influenced the usefulness of the results and renders comparison between the articles difficult.
Although it seems likely that religion and world view do have an impact on the attitudes of nurses to euthanasia and physician assisted suicide, our review certainly does not allow us to conclude that these are the only or most important factors in determining these attitudes. Even if one finds important differences between the attitudes of, for example, Roman Catholic and non-believing nurses in one country, much greater differences could exist when compared with Catholic nurses from another country.