Terminally Ill Want a Natural Death - But Are Afraid to Take Necessary Actions, Study Shows

Project staff at American Health Decisions conducted focus groups in 32 cities, did telephone interviews with terminally ill people and conducted a follow-up survey with focus group participants to determine how Americans view end-of-life care. They presented their findings in a report, The Quest to Die with Dignity: An Analysis of Americans' Values, Opinions and Attitudes Concerning End-Of-Life Care.

Key Findings

These key messages emerged from focus group participants:

  • They fear reaching the end of their lives hooked up to machines, and prefer a natural death in familiar surroundings with loved ones.
  • They do not believe that the current health care system supports their ideal concept of death and dying.
  • Although they think it is important to plan for death and dying, they are uncomfortable with the topic and resist taking action.
  • They say family considerations are their primary concern in making end-of-life decisions.
  • Current planning options do not support the way they want to manage the death and dying experience.

The report also included recommendations based on the findings.