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Study examines Irish people’s attitude towards discussing death

A Trinity College study is exploring how comfortable we are discussing our end of life plans with the aim of bringing it to the forefront. The study which was published in the Irish medical Journal this month looked at how people responded to discussing their end of life plans with GPs. The trial spanned five GP practices and involved 100 clinically stable patients.

Volunteers were given a “Think Ahead” form to fill out with questions regarding their preferences to end of life care. The aim of the project was to measure peoples comfort levels in discussing mortality and whether a GP visit was the right forum for such a discussion. After the GP visit, patients were phoned and asked to evaluate their experiences and feeling on the meeting. The study was supported by the Irish Hospice Foundation and the Forum on End of Life in Ireland.

Justice Catherine McGuinness of the Forum on End of Life says “Dr O’Shea’s research shows a very positive response from the public to the notion of planning ahead,end-of-life discussions can be uncomfortable for many of us but they are essential on a societal as well as a personal level.” The study found that 74% of people reported filling out the form did not make them upset, 63% indicated “no difficulty” in filling out the form and 83% went on to discuss their end of life plan with family members as a direct consequence of the form. Sharon Foley of the Irish Hospice Foundation says the study was in response to a “year-long consultation process” which demonstrated a need and demand for more information in this area.


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