Researching views on assisted dying

By Deborah Balmer and colleagues. Published on 9/7/2020

Dr Rosemary Frey, Dr Deborah Balmer, and Ms Katherine Nelson from the University of Auckland are seeking people aged 60+ to answer a questionnaire on views about assisted dying.

COVID-19 has propelled death and dying into public discussion. New Zealanders were asked to shutter ourselves at home to ‘save lives’ because “Breaking the rules could kill someone close to you” (Jacinda Ardern). People over 70 years of age were labelled as ‘vulnerable’ and asked to stay at home, given preferential access to supermarket services, and reached out to by neighbours and strangers alike.  

This admonishment to change our behaviour for the sake of those around us has arguably renewed our focus on caring for the most vulnerable.   We are interested to know whether this COVID-19 experience has influenced perceptions towards death and assisted dying and the End of Life Choice Act 2019. 

Assisting people to end their lives is a contentious legal, ethical, political, medical and social issue. Aotearoa New Zealand is grappling with this issue, reflected in the binding referendum on the End of Life Choice Act 2019 (the EOLC Act) in the 2020 Election. We are interested in finding out what people aged 60+ think about the End of Life Choice Act 2019 and if the impact of COVID-19 on life in New Zealand has brought any changes in attitudes to assisted dying. 


If you are aged over 60
If you are an adult aged over 60 years of age, we want to hear from you.  Click here to be taken to the online survey.  The questionnaire will take about 15 minutes to complete.

Alternatively, if you want to receive a copy of the questionnaire in the post or via email,  or to request  to complete the question in-person, send your email or postal address to or ring us and leave a message on (09) 373-7599 ext. 81353.  



Dr Deborah Balmer is a research fellow with the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland. Deborah grew up in Invercargill.  She trained as a secondary teacher after her initial degree and then went on to specialise in adult language & literacy education. She has worked both locally and abroad in India, Australia, the USA, and the Middle East. Her doctoral research used ethnographic approaches to examine the social and literacy practices surrounding written patient information text used with patients in a New Zealand hospital. She is currently researching across a range of end of life related issues, as well as continuing with her interest in literacy and health literacy in particular. 


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