End-of-Life Care Talks May Miss Patient Priorities

Care preferences, prognosis, values, fears important to the ill and their family

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 3, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Important points are often missed when doctors have end-of-life discussions with patients and their families, a new study finds.

Researchers asked more than 200 older Canadians who were hospitalized with serious illnesses and 205 of their family members about the importance of 11 recommended elements of end-of-life care.

The patients and families said the top five end-of-life issues that should be discussed were: care preferences in the event of life-threatening illness; patient values; prognosis of illness; fears and concerns; and additional questions regarding care.

However, doctors often didn't discuss these issues with patients and their families, according to the study published in the Nov. 3 issue of CMAJ.

The researchers found that patients reported an average of 1.4 of the 11 recommended elements of end-of-life care had been discussed with them during the first few days after they were admitted to hospital.

The more elements of end-of-life care that doctors discussed with patients, the higher the level of satisfaction with care reported by patients and their families, the study authors said.

"Our findings could be used to identify important opportunities to improve end-of-life communication and decision-making in the hospital setting," study lead author Dr. John You, associate professor of medicine, and clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said in a journal news release.

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SOURCE: CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal), news release, Nov. 3, 2014

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