Public is comfortable with idea, but few are making plans

The Monmouth University Polling Institute and the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute today released their third “Health Matters Poll,” a periodic survey of Garden State attitudes on health care related issues. The current survey, which examines planning for end of life care, found that most New Jerseyans have had some sort of discussion about their wishes for end of life medical treatment, but few have actually made specific plans.

Most New Jersey residents say they are comfortable thinking about the idea of getting older, including 45% who are very comfortable and 28% who are somewhat comfortable with the idea. Another 26% say getting older is something they would rather not think about. There are no significant differences in this comfort level by residents’ age, race, education or income.

Men (50%) are more likely than women (40%) to say they are very comfortable with the idea of getting older. That may be because men (53%) are significantly less likely than women (69%) to think about what will happen to them if they develop a terminal illness. Specifically, 6-in-10 New Jersey adults say they have thought about their own wishes for medical treatment if they had a disease with no hope of improvement that caused a great deal of pain. This includes 27% who have given it a great deal of thought and 34% who have given it some thought. Another 22% of New Jerseyans have not given it very much thought and 17% have given it no thought at all.

“We know that end-of-life decisions and conversations are some of the most difficult and stressful conversations family members can have,” said David L. Knowlton, President and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

“It is encouraging that so many New Jerseyans are at least comfortable with thinking these issues over. The challenge now is to translate that comfort into a meaningful conversation and a written plan that fulfills their wishes.”

For the full release and poll results, click here.