Attitudes Toward End of Life Care In California

California HealthCare Foundation’s online resource for independent research, analysis, and news on issues affecting health care delivery and financing with including in depth looks at Chronic Disease Care, Long Term Care and End of Life Care.

Attitudes Toward End-of-Life Care in California
Lake Research Partners, November 2006

While it’s true that Americans are living longer, there is a flip side. The aging population is grappling with new challenges, including an increasing number of chronic illnesses and a range of sensitive issues brought about by modern medicine and end-of-life medical care.

This report explores how Californians view difficult issues surrounding death and dying, including life support, end-of-life care planning, hospice care, and pain management.
Compiling results of a statewide survey and focus groups, the study finds disparate perspectives among the state’s diverse populations. It also reveals a disconnect between an individual’s end-of-life wishes and specific actions taken to ensure that those wishes are respected.

Other findings include:

  • Views on a patient’s right to die varied significantly by ethnicity, with whites far more willing to allow a loved one to die than any other ethnic group;
  • The overwhelming majority (80%) would not want to be kept alive on life support if they were in a coma with no hope of significant recovery;
  • Over a third (36%) report that they have their end-of-life wishes in writing;
  • Sixty-eight percent say that when they think about death and dying, they are “concerned” about pain and discomfort, and 39% said they were “very concerned”; and
  • Although the majority (71%) have heard of hospice care, only 32% report knowing “a lot” about it.

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