You Should Really Tell Your Doctor About Your Bucket List: Here’s Why


What's on most people's bucket lists? Travel to another country? Finally try delicacies? Climb to the top of a mountain? Whatever it is, it might be a good idea if people shared their bucket list to their doctors.

Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine say sharing these life goals with a medical professional can lead to a plan, which could better align with the person's priorities, and it may even help them lead healthier lives.

The Thing With Bucket Lists

The study, published in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, saw the researchers study over 3,000 people across the country and discovered that 91 percent had their own bucket list. For the uninitiated, that's a roster of things, activities, and personal goals one accomplishes to achieve before they pass away. It can be something as simple as riding a roller coaster or something as difficult as learning a new language.

Common Items In A Bucket List

The researchers broke down the most common items they found on people's bucket lists: 79 percent of the participants wanted to do things related to traveling; 78 percent of them included a personal goal, such as finishing a marathon run; 51 percent of them wrote down a huge milestone, such as a wedding anniversary; 24 percent said they wanted to be financially stable; 16.7 percent said they wanted to spend more time with their families; and 15 percent said they wanted to do something daring or adventurous.

Why Doctors Should Be Informed About Their Patient's Bucket List

Here's why this type of information should be shared to physicians and doctors: they can help. They can motivate patients to strive for living healthier lifestyles in order to achieve the items included in their bucket lists. Plus they can help tailor or streamline their habits so as to get closer to achieving those goals.

"Telling a patient not to eat sugar because it's bad for them doesn't work nearly as well as saying, for example, if you are careful now, you will be able to splurge on a slice of wedding cake in a few months when your son gets married," said the study's lead author VJ Periyakoil said.

If a physician knows the items in one's bucket list, they might then be able to lay down specific plans — including healthy lifestyle choices — as a means to reach their goals. A doctor, for example, may prescribe running activities for a patient who wishes to finish a marathon at a specified date. Or they can give them ways to boost their stamina so as to prepare for a potential trip abroad.

"It's important for physicians to talk to patients and find out what actually motivates them," said Periyakoil.

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