Physician-patient end-of-life care discussions: correlates and associations with end-of-life care preferences of cancer patients-a cross-sectional survey study.
Palliat Med. 2014 Dec;28(10):1222-30
Authors: Tang ST, Liu TW, Liu LN, Chiu CF, Hsieh RK, Tsai CM
BACKGROUND: Honoring patients' treatment preferences is a key component of high-quality end-of-life care. Connecting clinical practices to patients' preferences requires effective communication. However, few cancer patients reported discussing end-of-life-care preferences with their physicians.
AIM: To identify correlates of physician-patient end-of-life-care discussions and to investigate associations of physician-patient end-of-life-care discussions with patient end-of-life-care preferences.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey from April 2011 through November 2012.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A convenience sample of 2467 cancer patients (89.3% participation rate) whose disease was diagnosed as terminal and unresponsive to current curative cancer treatment was recruited from 23 teaching hospitals throughout Taiwan.
RESULTS: Only 7.8% of respondents reported discussing end-of-life-care preferences with their physicians. Physicians were more likely to discuss end-of-life-care preferences with cancer patients who accurately understood their prognosis but less likely to do so if patients were married or received care in a hospital with an inpatient hospice unit. Furthermore, physician-patient end-of-life-care discussions were significantly, positively associated with the likelihood of preferring comfort-oriented care and hospice care, but negatively associated with preferences for receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation when life is in danger and aggressive life-sustaining treatments at end of life, including intensive care unit admission, cardiac massage, intubation, and mechanical ventilation support.
CONCLUSION: Physician-patient end-of-life-care discussions are correlated with accurate prognostic awareness, marital status, and institutional characteristics and negatively associated with terminally ill cancer patients' preferences for aggressive end-of-life care. Interventions should be developed to facilitate timely end-of-life-care discussions between at-risk patients and their physicians, thus honoring patients' end-of-life-care preferences and possibly avoiding futile life-sustaining treatments.
PMID: 24965755 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]