Millions of Britons are failing to make adequate plans for their death and don’t know the wishes of their loved ones, according to a new study released by the Dying Matters Coalition. Today’s ComRes research, released to coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week (12-18 May), finds that discussing dying and making end of life plans remain a taboo for many people in Great Britain:
- 83% of the public believe that people in Britain are uncomfortable discussing dying and death.
- More than half of the public (51%) who have a partner say they are unaware of their end of life wishes.
- Only 36% of British adults say they have written a will, just over a third (34%) that they have registered as an organ donor or have a donor card, 29% that they have let someone know their funeral wishes and just 6% that they have written down their wishes or preferences about their future care, should they be unable to make decisions for themselves.
It’s not just the public who are failing to talk about dying. A quarter of GPs (25%) did not report having initiated a discussion with a patient about their end of life wishes – even though NHS figures show that on average 20 of a GP’s patients die each year. Although better prepared than the public, just 40% of GPs in the UK say they have talked to someone about their own end of life wishes, 57% that they have written a will, 57% that they have registered as organ donors/have a donor card, 33% that have let someone know what their funeral wishes are and only 8% that they have written down their wishes about their future care.
Despite this widespread reluctance to talk about dying and plan ahead, 80% of the public believe all adults should be required to have a will to avoid disputes after they have died. There’s also a real desire for doctors to receive support in talking about dying: 90% of the public agree that all healthcare professionals should receive compulsory training in how to talk sensitively to people who are dying and their families.
ComRes interviewed 2,055 GB adults online between 23rd and 24th April 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+.
ComRes interviewed 1,003 General Practitioners from the UK online between the 9th and 16th April 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of General Practitioners in the UK by former SHA region.
ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.