Poll Shows 1 in 4 Voters Have Experienced or Seen Discrimination in Healthcare

Most Voters Confident Their End-of-Life Care Will Match Their Wishes But Haven’t Identified Them
December 15, 2023

Supermajority of Voters Support Medical Aid in Dying, Regardless of Faith, Politics, Race, Region

One out of four voters surveyed nationwide (25%) say they have “personally experienced or witnessed discrimination in healthcare due to race, ethnicity, gender, disability, religion or sexual orientation,” according to a new poll sponsored by Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life care advocacy group.

Black voters are the most likely racial group to say they had personally experienced or witnessed discrimination in healthcare (35%), followed by Hispanic voters (29%), Asian and Pacific Islander voters (25%), and white voters (19%). Voters who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are the most likely demographic group to say they had experienced or witnessed discrimination in healthcare (41%).

Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted this national online survey on Sept. 22-Oct. 4 of 1,648 voters’ end-of-life experiences and perspectives on terminal illness, palliative and hospice care, dementia, medical aid in dying, and access to healthcare in general. Susquehanna Polling & Research provided advice on questionnaire development and initial data analysis. The poll included oversamples of Black voters (324), Hispanic voters (310), and Asian and Pacific Islander voters (307) to ensure statistically significant results for these racial groups.

“We sponsored this poll to build on the work of our African American,Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific IslanderLatino, and LGBTQ+ leadership councils in their efforts to achieve greater empowerment and equity at life’s end,” said Kim Callinan, president/CEO of Compassion & Choices. “We hope to join people from the impacted communities, health care groups, health care providers, and policymakers around our shared commitment to make tangible progress in addressing these inequities.”

In addition, the poll showed the overwhelming majority of voters surveyed said they were “very confident” or “somewhat confident” that their primary healthcare provider (82%), immediate family (87%), or healthcare proxy (94%) “would ensure you get the end-of-life care that matches your priorities and preferences.” Paradoxically, a large percentage of voters admitted they had not completed the advance care planning steps to ensure they get the end-of-life care that matches their priorities and preferences.

For example, only 37% of voters said they had completed an advance directive or living will, 36% said they had appointed a healthcare proxy, and just 18% of voters who had completed an advance directive or living will said they had shared it with both their healthcare proxy and doctor, while 58% said they had discussed their end-of-life care priorities and preferences with their immediate family members.

“While death is an uncomfortable topic for some people, the winter holidays – when families gather together – are an opportune time for anyone of any age to discuss their end-of-life care priorities and preferences with their family, their doctor, and appoint a healthcare proxy to ensure healthcare providers honor their end-of-life care wishes,” said Callinan. “We offer free online end-of-life care planning tools to facilitate these discussions. They include an End-of-Life Decisions GuideInformation on Advance Care Planning, and our Dementia Values and Priorities Tool to document a person’s wishes about the care they want if they get dementia, which they can add to their advance directive.”

Among the survey’s other key findings:

  • Nearly three out of four voters surveyed (74%) said it is “more important…to help people die with minimal pain, discomfort, and stress than delaying death and extending life as long as possible.”
    • Only 13% of voters surveyed overall said it is “more important…delaying death and extending life as long as possible,” including 24% of Black voters, followed by Hispanic voters (14%), Asian and Pacific Islander voters (11%),and white voters (10%).
  • More than seven out of 10 voters surveyed (72%) said they “think a mentally sound adult with an incurable, terminal illness–who only has six months or less to live–should have the legal option of medical aid in dying to get prescription medication they may take to pass peacefully in their sleep.” (This national support for medical aid in dying is five points higher than the 67% support for this option two years ago, according to a 2021 poll by Susquehanna Polling & Research.)
    • A supermajority of voters support medical aid in dying, regardless of political affiliation, race, religion, or region of the nation where they live:
      • Democratic voters (80%), voters with disabilities (76%), Republican voters (68%), and Independent voters (67%);
      • White voters (73%), Asian and Pacific Islander voters (73%), Hispanic voters (72%), and Black voters (66%);
      • Catholic voters (75%), Christian voters (69%), Protestant voters (68%), and voters with no religious preference (75%);
      • Northeast voters (77%), midwest voters (70%), southern voters (70%), and west coast voters (73%).

Currently, Washington, D.C. and 10 states allow medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option for mentally sound, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live. The 10 states are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

A memo summarizing the poll results is available at: https://candc.org/gssr-survey

The poll topline results are posted at: https://candc.org/oct-2023-poll

The poll crosstabs are posted at: https://candc.org/gssr-crosstabs

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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