Patient Age Influences Preference Regarding End-of-Life Care

August 31, 2010

Data from a new survey show that more than half of of Americans have made their end-of-life care preferences known, with 87% choosing informal communication with family, friends, or loved ones to express their wishes.

Data from a Thomson Reuters survey show that more than half of of Americans have made their end-of-life care preferences known, with 87% choosing informal communication with family, friends, or loved ones to express their wishes.

According to the questionnaire, which is part of the Thomson Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey, 60% of respondents had created a living will, and 50% chose to employ a healthcare power of attorney. Thomason Reuters interviewed 3,013 people interviewed from June 1 to 13; of those who responded, nearly three-quarters of people were over the age of 65.

Researchers found that people over 65 were more likely to choose a living will or healthcare power of attorney, while younger adults tended to opt for informal communication. Those who took formal steps over informal communication—particularly those in higher income brackets—received legal assistance preparing their document.

The survey found that about 10% of participants had made a medical decision for another person in the last 12 months, and in more than half of those cases, a living will or a medical directive was available. More than half of the decision makers had received counseling from a healthcare professional or support group. Counseling was rated helpful by 80% of those receiving it.

For more:

  • National Survey of Healthcare Consumers: End-of-Life Care
  • AHRQ: Talking About End-of-life Treatment Decisions
  • Lisa Schulmeister, RN, MN (Nurses’ Blogs): Watching a Video Changes Perceptions of End-of-Life Care
  • Oncology Net Guide—Honesty Is the Best Policy: Effective communication is essential for achieving a good death