Schiavo case showed media's power to affect end-of-life decisions, report says
The legal battle surrounding Schiavo, who died in 2005 after living in a persistent vegetative state, attracted widespread media attention. In 2005, during the height of the media frenzy, a team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco VA Medical Center conducted 117 interviews with participants in a study of advance directives or end-of-life contracts. Researchers discovered that the Schiavo case was dominating the interviewees' opinions over their own advance directives.
Nearly every participant in the study—92%—had heard of the Schiavo case, researchers found. Of those, more than half reportedly clarified their own end-of-life wishes and 66% discussed advanced care planning with family members—directly as a result of the Schiavo case. Still, remarkably few people discussed their wishes with a physician and an even smaller percentage actually completed advance directives, according to the report. Researchers did not discover a reason for this disconnect. The full report is available in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.