Older adults' attitudes toward death: links to perceptions of health and concerns about end-of-life issues.

  • Angela Fagerlin
  • Bookwala J
  • Coppola KM
  • Danks JH
  • Ditto PH
  • Lockhart LK
  • Smucker WD

The current study had two primary goals, to determine whether: 1) self-rated mental and physical health, pain, and experience with health problems were predictors of elderly adults' attitudes toward death; and 2) death attitudes predict end-of-life medical treatment concerns. Participants were 109 adults, 65 years of age or older (M=78.74 years), recruited from the local community. Regression analysis indicated that poorer perceived physical health predicted a greater likelihood of viewing death as an escape, and poorer perceived mental health predicted a greater fear of death. Viewing death as an escape and fearing death predicted end-of-life medical treatment concerns; a greater endorsement of either attitude predicted more concern. Possible explanations for the links between perceived health, attitudes toward death, and concern about end-of-life issues are suggested.

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