California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Survey: Patients, Physicians Not Discussing End-of-Life Care

Most Californians would want to discuss end-of-life care options with their physicians if they were seriously ill, but very few have had such a conversation, according to a survey from the California HealthCare Foundation, the Contra Costa Times reports.

CHCF publishes California Healthline (Krieger, Contra Costa Times, 2/14).

For the survey -- which was conducted last fall -- research firm Lake Research Partners interviewed 1,669 Californians ages 18 and older, 393 of whom had experienced the death of a loved one in the past 12 months.

Key Findings

About 80% of Californians said they would want to discuss end-of-life care with their physician if they had a serious illness, the survey found.

However, only 7% said they have taken part in such a discussion, including only 13% of residents ages 65 and older.

The study also found that:

  • 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; and
  • 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.

Implications

The survey results demonstrate the need for more physicians to talk to patients about options for end-of-life care, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Findings also suggest that Californians should make their wishes for end-of-life care known to loved ones who will be making treatment decisions on their behalf (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/14).

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