The Oregon Death with Dignity Act: Results of a literature review and naturalistic inquiry

Charles E. Drum, Glen White, Genia Taitano, Willi Horner-Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The Death with Dignity (DWD) Act, a physician-assisted suicide statute, was initially adopted in Oregon In November, 1994 and became operational in 1998. The purpose of this study is to: 1) determine the nature and form of the empirical literature on the Oregon DWD Act; 2) describe the effects of the DWD Act on Oregonians with disabilities according to the empirical literature; and 3) present opinions held by a group of Oregonians with disabilities about the DWD Act and its effects. A literature review and focus group were conducted for this study. Thirteen empirical studies and 11 state annual DWD reports werw included in the literature review. Review of the empirical literatuer on DWD in Oregon reveals a number of potential concerns, including inadequate demographic profiling of DWD requesting patients, inadequate mental health evaluations, insufficient duration of physician-patient relationships, potential inaccuracy of the six month prognosis, and inadequate exploration of alternative treatment. These concerns suggest that the DWD reporting system may be inadequate and lack sufficient safeguards. The focus group revealed that there are multiple facets to the DWD issue. Within the disability community, there does not seem to be unequivocal support for one viewpoint over another.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Assisted suicide
  • Death with dignity
  • Disability
  • Oregon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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