Public Awareness and Perceptions of Palliative and Comfort Care

In April 2018, Barbara Bush, champion for universal literacy and former First Lady of the United States, died at the age of 92 after a prolonged illness. Two days prior, a family spokesperson announced that she had “decided not to seek additional medical treatment and [would] instead focus on comfort care.” We analyzed Google Trends data to assess whether this announcement generated public curiosity regarding the phrase ‘comfort care.’ Google searches for the phrase ‘what is comfort care?’ spiked immediately after the April 15 announcement, exceeding the prior year’s search frequency by nearly fourfold (Figure).

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