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Keywords:

  • medical ethics;
  • Mexico;
  • euthanasia

ABSTRACT

Euthanasia has become the subject of ethical and political debate in many countries including Mexico. Since many physicians are deeply concerned about euthanasia, due to their crucial participation in its decision and implementation, it is important to know the psychological meaning that the term ‘euthanasia’ has for them, as well as their attitudes toward this practice. This study explores psychological meaning and attitudes toward euthanasia in 546 Mexican subjects, either medical students or physicians, who were divided into three groups: a) beginning students, b) advanced students, and c) physicians. We used the semantic networks technique, which analyzed the words the participants associated with the term ‘euthanasia’. Positive psychological meaning, as well as positive attitudes, prevailed among advanced students and physicians when defining euthanasia, whereas both positive and negative psychological meaning together with more ambivalent attitudes toward euthanasia predominated in beginning students. The findings are discussed in the context of a current debate on a bill proposing active euthanasia in Mexico City.