Table 4:

Reported benefits and disadvantages of high school education

ThemeSubthemeRepresentative quotation
Age appropriatenessExisting experience within families
Legal right denotes societal responsibility to prepare
Cognitive and emotional maturity
Subset of immature students who may not be ready
“I agree because I think that if someone can legally make a decision, [he or she] should know all the information that comes with that right. People are taught about sex at 14; this is just as important, and they are mature enough to understand this as well.” (18-yr-old woman)
“Some 16-year-olds are pretty immature, and they would have to be mature to be taught this.” (82-yr-old woman, health care professional)
Developmental benefitImproved decision-making
Increased sense of responsibility and maturity
Development of personal beliefs
“By 16 they understand that death happens. … They will walk out of learning this and have bigger conversations with their friends and family about this topic.” (49-yr-old woman)
Decreases stress/distress at time of decisionUnpredictability in timing of real-life situation“I had to make these decisions as a 24-year-old. My mom, as a health care provider, always let me know what she wanted. From when I was young (10 and onwards) I felt equipped to support her and her decisions when the time came regardless of my personal feelings.” (43-yr-old woman)
Societal benefitUniversal issue — awareness needed
Breaking taboos
Taking care of parents
“It’s like sex ed — are you going to hide it from them? It’s important to have these conversations because they can be put in this situation at any time. If you see your parents going through it you might wonder what’s going on, so it’s good to be educated on this topic. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject.” (66-yr-old man)
Potential difficulties/harm in selected studentsMandatory v. opt in v. opt out“People are having kids later these days, and this could come up sooner in a person’s life. Someone could be an only child and would need this [information]. No one is ever prepared for the psychological and emotional stress that comes with this.” (47-yr-old man)
Risk of biasTeacher and facilitator dependent“[You] have to consider religious [implications], family members, customs, language and country of origin.” (82-yr-old woman, health care professional)