Study shows shift in attitudes about end-of-life care

A new Pew study indicates that the number of Americans who believe medical professionals should take all steps possible to prolong life in all circumstances has more than doubled since 1990. From Pew Research:

At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s life in all circumstances.

When asked about end-of-life decisions for other people, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say there are at least some situations in which a patient should be allowed to die, while nearly a third (31%) say that medical professionals always should do everything possible to save a patient’s life. Over the last quarter-century, the balance of opinion has moved modestly away from the majority position on this issue. While still a minority, the share of the public that says doctors and nurses should do everything possible to save a patient’s life has gone up 9 percentage points since 2005 and 16 points since 1990.

The report shows white mainline Protestants are more likely than those of other faith backgrounds to say they would direct their doctors to stop life-prolonging treatment if they had a disease that caused great suffering with no hope of improvement. Read more.

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One Comment
  1. So glad this was posted and thanks, Ann Fontaine for calling my attention to this (via Twitter!).

    My other/equal great love is healthcare communications (and ministry) with a specific focus on #eol and #hospice issues. I’ve long said that this is where the church (writ large and locally) can and must fill the growing gaps in education and service.

    Don’t need to be a genius or prophet to realize that end of life issues are of immediate and pressing concern to many these days.

    What shall we, as people of faith, do to help ease the transition from this life?

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