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8 in 10 Koreans oppose medical care for life extension

Posted October. 31, 2017 07:18,   

Updated October. 31, 2017 09:27


A new survey has found that eight in 10 Korean people hold negative views towards relying on medical care for life extension, including the use of a respirator. The survey was conducted of 346 adult respondents aged 20 or older last year by a research team led by professor Kim Gwang-hwan from the department of hospital management at Konyang University, who announced the result on Monday.

“Medical care for life prolongation” refers to any types of medical treatment designed not to cure an illness but to keep terminally ill patients alive, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation, kidney dialysis and the use of a respirator.

Looking into the details, 79.2 percent of the respondents said they “would not receive antibiotic therapy for the purpose of life prolongation," and 80.1 percent said they “would reject artificial respiration at their last moment.” Those who oppose kidney dialysis and CPR were also 82.4 percent and 77.2 percent, respectively.

The research team also found those who said they would refuse life-sustaining treatments turned out to be more religious on average. Out of all respondents, 188 persons who had religious beliefs were relatively more negative to medical care for life prolongation, opposing antibiotic therapy (80.3%), artificial resuscitation (81.9%), kidney dialysis (85.1%) and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (79.3%).

“People with religious beliefs tend to believe in life after death, and as a result, seem to hold negative views on medical treatment for life extension,” said Kim. Last Monday, the government began trialing the new hospice law designed to help give patients the choice to die with dignity without life-sustaining medical care, and the legislation will take effect next February.

Youn-Jong Kim zozo@donga.com