Some 59% of Britons fear that dying people are not treated with enough dignity and respect by health and care professionals, with many worried that medical staff are failing to meet the last wishes of their patients.
A new survey by the Dying Matters Coalition reveals that many people feel unable to talk about death and end of life plans with their doctors.
The majority of GPs (88%) admitted that if people felt more comfortable discussing dying, it would be easier to meet their last wishes.
The figures, released to mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, show that 54% of people in the UK have suffered a bereavement in the last five years.
However, just a quarter of these people said they had received enough support.
Some 83% of those surveyed said they thought health professionals should prioritise end of life care for the elderly and people who are terminally ill as much as care for newborn babies.
But many believe that a lack of support could lead to them missing out on having their end of life wishes met.
For example, although 70% of people in England would prefer to die at home, more than half die in hospital. A third of people said they think about death weekly, while 11% said they thought about it every day.
Eve Richardson, chief executive of the Dying Matters Coalition and the National Council for Palliative Care said: “We want as many people as possible to discuss their end of life wishes and to take small actions such as registering to become an organ donor, writing a will or making an effort to speak to anyone they know who is nearing their end of their life or who has been bereaved.”
Professor Mayur Lakhani, GP and vhair of the Dying Matters Coalition, added: “Until we have a more open approach to discussing dying we risk continuing to see people die without their wishes being met. By raising the issue of end of life care earlier with people who have advancing disease, doctors can also play a key role in ensuring people get the type of end of life care and support they need and want.”