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During the summer months The Conversation Project conducted the first national survey assessing end-of-life conversations.  Kelton, a strategic consultancy firm, executed two separate surveys of 2,073 nationally representative Americans ages 18+.  Results showed a “Conversation Disconnect” as more than 9 in 10 Americans think it’s important to talk about their own and their loved ones’ wishes for end-of-life care, but less than 3 in 10 are actually having these types of conversations.

This research shows a gap between what people think they should discuss and what actually happens with regards to honoring one’s wishes at the end-of-life. However the results from the survey further support a promising trend among the American population – an overwhelming number of people agree having conversations about how we want to live at the end of our days is important.  Co-founder of The Conversation Project and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Ellen Goodman, added, “This is no longer a taboo subject. The Conversation Project wants to help make it easier for all those people who are ready but reluctant to start expressing their wishes.”

A review of key findings:

  • Top reasons why Americans haven’t discussed their own wishes from the survey include: It’s not something they need to worry about at this point in life (29%),
    they aren’t sick yet (23%), the subject makes them feel
    uncomfortable (21%), or they don’t want to upset their
    loved ones (19%).
  • Top reasons for avoiding the conversation are “it never seems like the
    right time to discuss it” (25%) and “it isn’t something
    they need to worry about at this stage in their life”
  • 1/5 of Americans who haven’t broached the subject are waiting for their loved ones to
    bring the topic up first.
  • Those who did have such a conversation – 63% say they felt better knowing they were honoring the wishes of their loved ones, while 39% know their loved one was able to die just the way they wanted.

The Conversation Project in collaboration with The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) launched a public engagement campaign one year ago and has become one of the most visible efforts to encourage discussions on end-of-life care.  The Conversation Project offers people the tools, guidance, and resources they need to begin talking with their loved ones, around the kitchen table, about their wishes and preferences. Learn more at www.theconversationproject.org.





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