National survey indicates people more likely to talk about drug use and sex

A new national survey indicates that Americans are more likely to talk with their children about drug use or sex than with a seriously ill parent about their end-of-life wishes. The survey, completed by more than 2,300 individuals, was conducted in conjunction with the first National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), April 16, 2008.

"The survey highlights the need for more attention to advance care planning, which is why National Healthcare Decisions Day is so important," said Nathan A. Kottkamp, chair of the National Healthcare Decision Day initiative. "Americans have made such wonderful progress expanding the dialogue about drugs and sex with their children, yet we still struggle when it comes to talking about something that happens to every one of us &


Survey respondents would, however, want to talk to others if they were living with a serious illness.

"This disconnect between a willingness to talk about one's own end-of-life care and talking to others about their illness illustrates one of the reasons why advance care planning is not more prevalent," remarked Kathy Brandt, vice president of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and a member of the NHDD executive committee.

The survey was distributed electronically by NHDD participating organizations in March with the goal of gauging current attitudes towards advance care planning

National Healthcare Decisions Day is an initiative to encourage patients to express their wishes regarding healthcare through conversations and the completion of advance directives. NHDD is also working with providers and facilities to ensure that individual wishes are respected, whatever they may be.

The NHDD coalition includes more than 70 national organizations as well as 350 state and community organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and at international U.S. Military bases.

Many of these community organizations are hosting events and outreach activities on April 16.

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