A comparison of japanese and american psychiatrists’ attitudes towards patients wishing to die in the general hospital

Douglas Berger, Isao Fukunishi, Mary Alice O’dowd, Takashi Hosaka, Tomifusa Kuboki, Yoshihiro Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The attitudes of the psychiatrists in Japan and the US were compared in order to investigate their ideas on whether patients in general medical hospitals who have a desire to die should be allowed to do so or be assisted in this regard, and whether they require psychiatric evaluation and intervention, and the cultural influences on these attitudes. Methods: Japanese and American general hospital psychiatrists’ attitudes towards the reasonability of suicide, physician-assisted suicide, and removal of life supports under various medical and psychosocial situations were compared. Seventy-two American and 62 Japanese psychiatrists’ data were collected using the Suicidal Attitudes Inventory. Results: The majority of both American and Japanese psychiatrists agreed that there may be times when suicidal ideation or completed suicide in med-surg patients could be reasonable. Significantly more Japanese psychiatrists responded with some agreement to the reasonability of suicide when one is unable to fulfill social role expectations, and had more concern about causing suicidal ideation by informing terminal patients of their diagnosis. Conclusions: The results indicate that psychiatrists’ attitudes towards the relationship of psychopathology with suicidal ideation, the effect of depression, and other cultural factors on the desire to die in the medically ill are issues that need better clarification among both the medical profession as well as within society. Looking at how other societies handle these matters may help to understand one’s own approach to them.

Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)319-328
Number of pages10
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Euthanasia
  • Japan
  • Medical patients
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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