Findings suggest Americans need to learn more about hospice
MorseLife Hospice and Palliative Care has released the results of a new online survey of 2,008 U.S. adults age 18+ conducted on its behalf by The Harris Poll in September 2019. The top three insights include overwhelming support of medical marijuana, opinions on religion when dealing with a life-limiting illness and overall understanding of hospice care.
The survey, released to coincide with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month in November, found that 87 percent of Americans support the use of medical marijuana as a treatment option for terminally ill patients, with nearly three in five Americans (58%) expressing strong support.
“As the only hospice teaching program in the state of Florida, MorseLife was recently selected to participate in a pilot study on the use of medical marijuana as an alternative treatment to manage pain, anxiety, depression and reduce reliance on opioids,” said Keith Myers, President and CEO of MorseLife Health System. “The pilot study has the potential to revolutionize treatment protocols and it is reaffirming to know that most Americans are supportive of our groundbreaking work.”
Interestingly, the hospice care study also revealed that if they were terminally ill and enrolled in hospice care, nearly three quarters of Americans (72 percent) feel it would be important to have access to a religious leader of their faith for spiritual guidance during their hospice care, despite a Pew Research Center study revealing that only 54 percent of Americans consider themselves religious.
“These statistics suggest that when facing a terminal diagnosis most people turn to religion for comfort and guidance,” added Myers. “Our hospice program is the only program in Palm Beach County offered by an organization with a history of serving the Jewish community, so we understand through experience that spirituality must be an integral part of any strong hospice program.”
The MorseLife Hospice and Palliative Care Hospice Care Study findings show that many Americans are unsure or incorrect about key aspects of hospice care including purpose, length of care and costs. For example, nearly half of Americans (48 percent) are not aware that hospice is covered by insurance, while 40 percent of Americans incorrectly believe that the sole purpose of hospice is to sedate terminally ill patients to provide pain/anxiety relief. Further, close to two in five Americans (38 percent) do not know that hospice care is designed for people who have six months or less to live.
The survey also found that 58 percent of Americans have not discussed their end-of-life care preferences with anyone in the event they become terminally ill, including almost half (45 percent) of those aged 65 and older who say they have not discussed it. The top three reasons for avoiding a conversation on the subject are aversion to thinking or not being prepared to talk about end-of-life-care, and believing they are too young to worry about it right now (30 percent each).
“While most American’s (95%) are aware of the term hospice, there continues to be many misconceptions about hospice care,” said Myers. “Hospice focuses on enhancing quality of life and reducing suffering through holistic medical, emotional and spiritual services for patients and their families, is often covered by insurance, and is specifically designed for the last six months of life.”
Among other findings, the MorseLife Hospice and Palliative Care Hospice Care Study also revealed that there is a gender gap in hospice care knowledge, with men being less likely than women to be knowledgeable on certain aspects of hospice.
MorseLife, an innovative leader in senior care, plans to use the results of this survey to determine which aspects of hospice care need the most public attention and identify opportunities to raise awareness throughout the greater community.
“Hospice care is a difficult subject for many to approach, but the comfort, compassion and dignity that this service provides to patients and their families is indispensable,” noted Myers. “We can’t skirt the issue because it’s an uncomfortable one. There are many wonderful and innovative services available through hospice, like palliative care, and art, music and massage therapy, that can improve lives. People need to know these services are within their reach.”
The survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of MorseLife from September 5-9, 2019 among 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodologies, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Samantha Van Nuys.
MorseLife serves more than 3,600 seniors every day on its campus in West Palm Beach and through its community outreach programs. Founded in 1983, MorseLife is a provider of health care and residential services for seniors in Palm Beach County. A charitable, not-for-profit organization, its programs also include short term rehabilitation, long term care, independent and assisted living, memory care assisted living, hospice, home health care, care management, meals-on-wheels and PACE. Since its beginnings, MorseLife has built a reputation and tradition of caring for seniors with excellence, dignity and compassion.