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Medical News & Perspectives
January 8, 2014

US Views Shift on End-of-Life Care

JAMA. 2014;311(2):126. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.285573

Although two-thirds of US residents agree that there are circumstances when a patient should be allowed to die, nearly one-third believe clinicians should always do everything possible to save a life, according to a 2013 survey by the Pew Research Center (http://bit.ly/18kosOp).

These results suggest a subtle shift is occurring in US attitudes about end-of-life care. The percentage of individuals who support always taking extraordinary measures to save a life has steadily increased in recent years: only 15% reported such a view in 1990 compared with 22% in 2005 and 31% in 2013. Much of this shift may be accounted for by fewer individuals saying they don’t know whether physicians should always intervene, but the proportion of those who support the idea of allowing a patient to die declined from 73% in 1990 to 66% in 2013.

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