Resuscitation Preferences Among Patients with Severe Congestive Heart Failure

Results from the SUPPORT Project

Published In: Circulation, Vol. 98, no. 7, Aug. 18, 1998, p. 648-655

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1998

by Harlan M. Krumholz, Russell S. Phillips, Mary Beth Hamel, Joan M. Teno, Paul Bellamy, Steven K Broste, Robert M. Califf, Humberto Vidaillet, Roger B. Davis, Lawrence H. Muhlbaier, Alfred F. Connors, Jr., Joanne Lynn, Lee Goldman

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BACKGROUND: The authors sought to describe the resuscitation preferences of patients hospitalized with an exacerbation of severe congestive heart failure, perceptions of those preferences by their physicians, and the stability of the preferences. METHODS AND RESULTS: Of 936 patients in this study, 215 (23%) explicitly stated that they did not want to be resuscitated. Significant correlates of not wanting to be resuscitated included older age, perception of a worse prognosis, poorer functional status, and higher income. The physician's perception of the patient's preference disagreed with the patient's actual preference in 24% of the cases overall. Only 25% of the patients reported discussing resuscitation preferences with their physician, but discussion of preferences was not significantly associated with higher agreement between the patient and physician. Of the 600 patients who responded to the resuscitation question again 2 months later, 19% had changed their preferences, including 14% of those who initially wanted resuscitation (69 of 480) and 40% of those who initially did not (48 of 120). The physician's perception of the patient's hospital resuscitation preference was correct for 84% of patients who had a stable preference and 68% of those who did not. CONCLUSIONS: Almost one quarter of patients hospitalized with severe heart failure expressed a preference not to be resuscitated. The physician's perception of the patient's preference was not accurate in about one quarter of the cases. but communication was not associated with greater agreement between the patient and the physician. A substantial proportion of patients who did not want to be resuscitated changed their minds within 2 months of discharge.

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