April 16, 2019 | Number of The Day
New Jerseyans who have a written document on end-of-life medical care wishes

Today is National Health Care Decisions Day, when we are prompted to become informed on the importance of advance planning for end-of-life medical care.

A new poll shows that most New Jerseyans (97 percent) have discussed their end-of-life wishes with a loved one and 39 percent have talked about it with a lawyer or a financial planner.

But the gap between talking and taking action to record those wishes is substantial. “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.”

The poll shows that only 30 percent of New Jerseyans are pragmatic — and organized — enough to have a written document detailing their wishes. At the same time, the poll, by the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute in partnership with the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, also finds that six in 10 New Jerseyans (61 percent) have given a great deal or at least some thought to the issue.

“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.”