Posted at 12:01 am April 16, 2019, in New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

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New Brunswick, N.J. (April 16, 2019) – In advance of National Health Care Decisions Day on April 16, a new poll shows that six in 10 New Jerseyans (61 percent) have given a great deal or at least some thought to their wishes for medical care towards the end of their life.

But only 47 percent have actually talked to someone about their wishes, 42 percent have designated someone to make decisions about their care if they are unable, and just 30 percent have a written document detailing their wishes.

These results come from the latest poll in the New Jersey Health Matters series by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.

Among those who have had a conversation, just 24 percent have actually talked to a doctor or other healthcare provider even though Medicare and Medicaid reimburse providers for having end-of-life care consultations with patients.

Almost all New Jerseyans have talked about their end of life wishes with a loved one (97 percent) – whether a spouse, parent, child or someone else. About four in ten (39 percent) say they have talked to a lawyer or financial planner, while 7 percent have talked with a spiritual leader.

The vast majority of those who have prepared a written document have shared a copy with a family member or loved one (84 percent); a similar number has shared it with their designated health care proxy (86 percent). Half have shared this type of document with a lawyer or financial planner (51 percent), and a quarter have done so with a doctor or healthcare provider (24 percent).

“People are thinking about their end-of-life care wishes, but there’s a real gap when it comes to discussing them and writing them down,” said Ashley Koning, assistant research professor and director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling. “The gap is wider for some groups more than others, influenced by key factors like age, gender and race.”

“We know the best way to make sure your end-of-life wishes are respected and honored is to discuss and document them. And that’s why we created Conversation of Your Life (COYL),” said Linda Schwimmer, president and CEO of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “We therefore need physicians, nurses and other health care providers to encourage patients to talk about — and then document — their wishes. And if health care providers don’t bring the topic up, then patients should.”

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