Physician assisted suicide (PAS) has been a legalized presence in the United States since Oregon first passed the Death with Dignity Act in 1994. Now PAS is legalized in six states and it is realistic that nurses may encounter PAS during their career. This project explores pre-licensure nursing student attitudes toward PAS.

A mixed method design incorporating descriptive correlation and thematic analysis of an open-ended question was used. Surveys were sent to 550 nursing students enrolled in the UCF nursing program asking participants to complete the 34-question survey. This survey included a 12 item “Domino scale” on student nursing opinions toward physician-assisted suicide, and a 23-item demographic scale.

Complete, usable results were obtained from 231 participants. Demographic data revealed that the typical participant was between 18 and 25 years of age (80%), female (82%), single (87%), white (69%), in their first two semesters of the nursing program (60%), and unemployed (56%). The total scores for the Domino scale indicated a mean of 40. Regression analyses found that participant experience of someone having asked for help with PAS, and participant religiosity were significant predictors (F = 9.82, p = .0019; and F= 160.36, p < .0001) respectively of nursing student opinions on PAS as measured by the Domino scale. Qualitative analysis produced the following themes related to participant opinion on the nurse’s role in PAS: ways nurses can help with PAS, nurses should not be involved with PAS, clarification and delineation of the PAS process, the preservation of autonomy, the need for more education and inaccurate assumptions of PAS.

This study showed that nursing students are moderately in support of PAS and willing to provide care to patients who are terminally ill regardless of a his or her personal decisions regarding PAS. Participants also comment that they desire additional education. Suggestions for further education, practice enhancements, research and policy development are discussed.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Conner, Norma E.


Loerzel, Victoria


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date