May 17, 2017

Survey: 62% hesitant to discuss end of life care

While many people understand the importance of discussing end-of-life care, only about 35 percent have actually had those discussions with loved ones, according to a report coauthored by a University of Massachusetts Medical School professor.

The survey of the report, which questioned respondents from a similar UMass Medical School report from last year, was designed by Melissa Clark, a professor of quantitative health sciences at UMass Medical School and director of research and evaluation within Commonwealth Medicine, the medical school's public support agency. Julie Flahive and Sharina Person from UMass Medical School helped prepare the report.

A majority of those contacted -- 62 percent -- hadn't spoken about their end-of-life care plans with either their healthcare agent or proxy, or their medical provider, and 28 percent had spoken to either one or the other, according to the report. Just 10 percent had spoken to both. Also, 71 percent of respondents said that it was harder to plan for end-of-life care than to distribute their assets after death.

Once end-of-life conversations happened with doctors, 78 percent of respondents said they were "not at all" difficult. And two thirds of respondents said having the same conversation with someone other than a healthcare provider wasn't difficult.


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