Californians’ Attitudes and Experiences with Death and Dying

February 16, 2012
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A recent survey findings of Californians shows that patients and physicians not discussing end-of-life care.  Key findings include:

A recent survey findings of Californians shows that patients and physicians not discussing end-of-life care.  Key findings include:

  • About 80% of Californians said they would want to discuss end-of-life care with their physician if they had a serious illness.
  • Only 7% said they have taken part in such a discussion, including only 13% of residents ages 65 and older.
  • 82% of respondents said it is important to have their end-of-life wishes in writing, but only 23% have drafted such a plan.
  • 70% of respondents said they would prefer to die at home, but only 32% have made such arrangements.
  • About 66% of respondents said they would prefer a natural death if severely ill, and only 7% would want health providers to take all necessary measures to prolong their lives.
  • 44% of those who recently had experienced the death of a loved one said the person’s end-of-life care preferences had been followed completely by health care providers.

Dr. Gawande stated it perfectly in his New Yorker Article, “modern medicine is good at staving off death with aggressive interventions – and bad at knowing when to focus, instead, on improving the days that terminal patients have left.”  

Healthcare leaders may also be interested in the ACHE policy on decisions near the end of life.