By a Near Four-to-One Margin, U.S. Adults Favor Not Taking

Additional Steps to Prolong the Lives of Patients in a Persistent Vegetative 
State 
Only one-third of the public confident in doctors' ability to accurately 
diagnose this persistent state 
ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 12 /PRNewswire/ -- More than four in 10 (44%) U.S.
adults believe that additional steps should not be taken to prolong the lives
of patients who have been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state
unless the patient has specifically requested such care in a living will. This
is nearly four times the number of people who believe that medical care and
life support should always be provided (12%). Another 37 percent of adults
feel patients themselves (via a living will) or their next of kin should be
able to ask doctors to actively assist in ending a patient's life rather than
simply withdrawing treatment. 
These are some of the results of a Harris Interactive(R) online survey of
2,290 U.S. adults conducted between April 1 and 5, 2005 for The Wall Street
Journal Online's Health Industry Edition. 
The difficulty in making the decision to keep someone alive or allowing
them to die may be in part due to people's confidence in a doctor's ability to
accurately determine when someone is in a persistent vegetative state. 


     * Only one-third (34%) of the public is very confident that doctors can
       accurately determine it as such while 36 percent say they are somewhat
       confident.
     * One-quarter of adults are not too confident or not at all confident
       that doctors can accurately make this determination.


While the courts had the final say in the Terri Schiavo case, an
overwhelming majority (78%) of the public believes that if a patient has been
diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state and there is no living
will, the ultimate decision to keep them alive or allow them to die should lie
with the patient's next of kin. Very small percentages of the public believe
others should have the final say. Those include: 


     * the patient's doctors (2%)
     * a religious leader or institution (1%)
     * the courts (1%)
     * and other family members (9%).
     * An additional nine percent are not sure.


"These results underscore the importance of living wills," stated Kinga
Zapert, vice president of healthcare research at Harris Interactive. "Given
the moral, legal and clinical complexities of determining a persistent
vegetative state and its implications, the public appears willing to defer to
the preferences of the patients themselves." 
                               TABLE 1 
CONFIDENCE IN DOCTORS' ABILITY TO DIAGNOSE A PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE
"Based on what you know or have heard, how confident are you that doctors can 
 accurately determine when a patient is in a persistent vegetative state such 
 that he or she is permanently unconscious vs. someone for whom there is some 


                      hope of regaining consciousness?"
    Base: All Adults
                                                                 Total
                                                                   %
    Very confident                                                34
    Somewhat confident                                            36
    Not too confident                                             15
    Not at all confident                                           8
    Not sure                                                       6
    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
                                   TABLE 2
    VIEWS ABOUT MEDICAL CARE FOR PATIENTS IN A PERSISTENT VEGETATIVE STATE
           "Which one of these statements do you agree with most?"
    Base: All Adults
                                                    Confidence in Doctors to
                                    All Adults     Diagnose Vegetative State
                                                Very/Somewhat   Not Too/Not at
                                                   Confident     All Confident
                                            %          %               %
    Patients who have been diagnosed
     as being in a persistent vegetative
     state should be kept comfortable,
     but additional steps should not be
     taken to prolong their lives unless
     the patient has requested this in a
     living will.                           44          49             34
    Patients themselves (via a living will)
     or their next of kin should be able
     to ask their doctors to actively assist
     in ending a patient's life rather than
     simply withdrawing treatment.          37         41             30
    Patients who have been diagnosed as
     being in a persistent vegetative state
     should receive the same level of medical
     care and life support that is provided
     to other seriously ill patients,
     no matter what.                        12          6             28
    Not sure                                 7          5              8
    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100%
     due to rounding.
                                   TABLE 3

  WHO SHOULD HAVE THE FINAL SAY ABOUT KEEPING A PATIENT ALIVE OR ALLOWING TO
                                     DIE?

"If a patient has been diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state and
there is no living will stating the patient's preferences, who should have the
     final say about keeping the patient alive or allowing them to die?"
    Base: All Adults
                                                 Confidence in Doctors to
                                   All Adults    Diagnose Vegetative State
                                              Very/Somewhat   Not Too/Not at
                                                 Confident     All Confident
                                          %          %               %
    The patient's next of kin            78         83              67
    The patient's doctors                 2          3               2
    The patient's religious leader or
     religious institution                1          *               3
    The courts                            1          1               *
    Elected politicians                   *          *               *
    Other family members                  9          8              14
    Not sure                              9          5              14
     * Less than 0.5%.
     J040105
     Q455, Q460, Q465
      Downloadable PDFs of Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive
                       Health-Care Polls are posted at
          http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters_wsj.asp.
    Methodology


This poll was conducted online in the United States between April 1 and 5,
2005 among a nationwide cross section of 2,290 adults aged 18 and over.
Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, income and region were
weighted where necessary to align with population proportions. Propensity
score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be
online. 
In theory, with probability samples of this size, one could say with 95
percent certainty that the overall results have a sampling error of plus or
minus 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire U.S. adult
population had been polled with complete accuracy. Sampling error for the
following sub-sample results: adults who are very/somewhat confident (1,692)
or not to/not at all confident (497) that doctors can accurately determine
when a patient is in a persistent vegetative state is higher and varies.
Unfortunately, there are several other possible sources of error in polls or
surveys that are probably more serious than theoretical calculations of
sampling error. This includes refusals to be interviewed (nonresponse),
question wording and question order, and weighting. It is impossible to
quantify the errors that may result from these factors. This online sample was
not a probability sample. 
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National
Council on Public Polls. 
About the Survey 
The Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll is an
exclusive poll that is published in the award-winning Health Industry Edition
of The Wall Street Journal Online at http://www.wsj.com/health. 
About The Wall Street Journal Online 
The Wall Street Journal Online at WSJ.com, published by Dow Jones &
Company (NYSE: DJ; http://www.dowjones.com), offers authoritative analysis,
breaking news and commentary from top industry journalists. Launched in 1996,
the Online Journal is the largest paid subscription news site on the Web, with
more than 689,000 subscribers world-wide. The Online Journal provides in-depth
business news and financial information 24 hours a day, seven days a week,
with insight and analysis, including breaking business and technology news and
analysis from around the world. It draws on the Dow Jones network of more than
1,500 reporters and editors -- the largest staff of business and financial
journalists in the world. For the second consecutive year in 2003, the Online
Journal received a WebAward for the "Best Newspaper Web Site" and was also
cited by Yahoo! Internet Life magazine as the "Best Business News" site (2002
& 2001). 
About Dow Jones & Company 
In addition to The Wall Street Journal and its international and online
editions, Dow Jones & Company (NYSE: DJ; dowjones.com) also publishes Barron's
and the Far Eastern Economic Review, Dow Jones Newswires, Dow Jones Indexes
and the Ottaway group of community newspapers. Dow Jones is co-owner with
Reuters Group of Factiva, with Hearst of SmartMoney and with NBC of the CNBC
television operations in Asia and Europe. Dow Jones also provides news content
to CNBC and radio stations in the U.S. 
About Harris Interactive(R) 
Harris Interactive Inc. (http://www.harrisinteractive.com), the 15th
largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, is a Rochester,
N.Y.-based global research company that blends premier strategic consulting
with innovative and efficient methods of investigation, analysis and
application. Known for The Harris Poll(R) and for pioneering Internet-based
research methods, Harris Interactive conducts proprietary and public research
to help its clients achieve clear, material and enduring results. 
Harris Interactive combines its intellectual capital, databases and
technology to advance market leadership through U.S. offices and wholly owned
subsidiaries: London-based HI Europe (http://www.hieurope.com), Paris-based
Novatris (http://www.novatris.com), Tokyo-based Harris Interactive Japan,
through newly acquired WirthlinWorldwide, a Reston, Virginia-based research
and consultancy firm ranked 25th largest in the world, and through an
independent global network of affiliate market research companies. EOE M/F/D/V 
To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to
participate in future online surveys, visit http://www.harrispollonline.com. 


     Press Contacts:
     Nicole C. Pyhel
     The Wall Street Journal Online
     609-520-4057
     Nancy Wong
     Harris Interactive
     585-214-7316
     Kelly Gullo
     Harris Interactive
     585-214-7172
     Harris Interactive Inc. 04/05




SOURCE  Harris Interactive 
CONTACT:
Nicole C. Pyhel of The Wall Street Journal Online, +1-609-520-4057; or Nancy 
Wong, +1-585-214-7316, or Kelly Gullo, +1-585-214-7172, both of Harris 
Interactive
-0- Apr/12/2005 18:25 GMT
 
 
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