Community perceptions on the significant extension of life: an exploratory study among urban adults in Brisbane, Australia.


Journal Article

Some researchers in the field of ageing claim that significant extension of the human lifespan will be possible in the near future. While many of these researchers have assumed that the community will welcome this technology, there has been very little research on community attitudes to life extension. This paper presents the results of an in-depth qualitative study of community attitudes to life extension across age groups and religious boundaries. There were 57 individual interviews, and 8 focus groups (totalling 72 focus group participants) conducted with community members in Brisbane, Australia. Community attitudes to life extension were more varied and complex than have been assumed by some biogerontologists and bioethicists. While some participants would welcome the opportunity to extend their lives others would not even entertain the possibility. This paper details these differences of opinion and reveals contrasting positions that reflect individualism or social concern among community members. The findings also highlight the relationship between Christianity, in particular belief in an afterlife, and attitudes to life extension technology. Overall, the study raises questions about the relationship between interest in life extension, the medicalisation of ageing and the increasing acceptability of enhancement technologies that need to be addressed in more representative samples of the community.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Underwood, M; Bartlett, HP; Partridge, B; Lucke, J; Hall, WD

Published Date

  • February 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 68 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 496 - 503

PubMed ID

  • 19062150

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19062150

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5347

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1873-5347

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.11.002


  • eng