Objective: To survey university students on their views concerning the respect for autonomy of patients and the best interest of patients in relation to the withholding of resuscitation.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey among university students of medicine, nursing, philosophy, law and theology of the first and the final study years at the University of Ljubljana and the University of Zagreb was conducted during the academic year of 2016/2017. A questionnaire constructed by Janiver et al. presenting clinical case vignettes was used.
Results: The survey response rates for students in Ljubljana and Zagreb were 45.4% (512 students) and 37.9% (812 students), respectively. The results of our research show statistically significant differences in do-not resuscitate decisions in different cases between medical and non-medical students in both countries. Male and religious students in both countries have lower odds of respecting relatives' wishes for the withholding of resuscitation (odds ratio 0.49-0.54; 95% confidence interval). All students agreed that they would first resuscitate children if they had to prioritize among patients.
Conclusions: Our study clearly shows that gender, religious beliefs, and type of study are important factors associated with the decisions pertaining to the respect for autonomy, patient's best interest, and initiation or withholding of resuscitation.