JAHF Poll Finds Disparities in Awareness and Understanding of Advance Care Planning Terms

Nov 8, 2023

According to a new poll commissioned by the John A. Hartford Foundation, terms regarding planning and care for serious illness is unfamiliar to adults age 50 and older, but strongly desired once defined. Specifically, 97% of adults 50+ think it is important to have access to “advance care planning” when it is defined for them, yet 40% are slightly or not at all familiar with the term.

Awareness around “advance care planning” as a term is lower among older Black (48%) and Hispanic adults (45%) compared to white older adults (37%).According to the John A. Hartford Foundation, clinician-initiated conversations about planning and care for serious illness are critical to age-friendly care. Experts say these conversations need to begin long before people face these decisions.

More than half of adults 50+ (54%) report that within the last two years, no health care professional, be it a doctor, nurse, or other staff, initiated a conversation about what matters to them in their health care. Just under half of adults 50+ (47%) believe people speaking on their behalf will completely know what matters most to them about their healthcare, if they became too sick to make their own decisions. Regardless of race or ethnicity, almost all (99%) adults 50+ think it is important for their health care team to offer specialized care that can improve their quality of life during serious illness, such as relief from pain and other symptoms.

Other key findings from this poll are available here.