Attitudes Toward End-of-Life Care in California

Lake Research Partners


This is archived content, for historical reference only.

Americans are living longer, but there is a flip side to such longevity. The aging population is grappling with new challenges, including an increasing number of chronic illnesses and a range of sensitive issues brought about by modern medicine and end-of-life medical care.

This 2006 report explores how Californians viewed difficult issues surrounding death and dying, including life support, end-of-life care planning, hospice care, and pain management.

Compiling results of a statewide survey and focus groups, the study found disparate perspectives among the state’s diverse populations. It also revealed a disconnect between an individual’s end-of-life wishes and specific actions taken to ensure that those wishes were respected.

Other findings include:

  • Views on a patient’s right to die varied significantly by ethnicity, with whites far more willing to allow a loved one to die than any other ethnic group;
  • The overwhelming majority (80%) would not want to be kept alive on life support if they were in a coma with no hope of significant recovery;
  • Over a third (36%) reported that they had their end-of-life wishes in writing;
  • Sixty-eight percent said that when they thought about death and dying, they were “concerned” about pain and discomfort, and 39% said they were “very concerned”; and
  • Although the majority (71%) had heard of hospice care, only 32% reported knowing “a lot” about it.

The survey is available under Document Downloads.