Monday, November 21, 2011

People Want Palliative Care Info

Education Gap

78% of Americans think palliative care and end-of-life treatment should be a part of public discussion, and a whopping 93% believe such decisions should be a top priority for the US healthcare system, according to a survey released this year conducted by the news magazine National Journal and the Regence Foundation.

More than 70% of the respondents agreed with the statement: “It is more important to enhance the quality of life for seriously ill patients, even if it means a shorter life.” While 23% said it was “more important to extend life through every medical intervention possible.” 

Panelists at the health summit at which the data was presented agreed that patients want to make their own decisions.  “It’s really about control,” said John Rother, executive vice president of policy, strategy, and international affairs at AARP.  The survey’s findings suggest many Americans want to better understand what is available to those who have few options left.

Around 23% of those surveyed said they thought the law allows government to make end-of-life decisions for older adults.  Only 40% correctly answered that the law does not include “death panels,” while 36% said they didn’t know.

These results illustrate the huge need for education. Of those surveyed, 54% said their doctor or healthcare provider was the source of information on end-of-life issues, and 75% said they got their information from family and friends.  Only 33% said they trusted politicians and elected officials for accurate information.

Those polled gave the US healthcare system a “C” grade of 5.5 on a scale of 1 to 10.  36% scored the system 7 - 10; 41% rated it 4 - 6; 21% gave scores of 0 - 3.

Pathways has a robust palliative care program under the auspices of our Home Health department.  It is designed for those with serious illness who may still be receiving curative treatment and who may have up to 12 months to live.

More information about this survey can be obtained at:

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