A Prospective Study of Patient-Physician Communication About Resuscitation

Published in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, v. 48, no. 5, suppl., May 2000, p. S52-S60

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2000

by Carol E. Golin, Neil S. Wenger, Honghu H. Liu, Neal V. Dawson, Joan M. Teno, Norman A. Desbiens, Joanne Lynn, Robert K. Oye, Russell S. Phillips

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OBJECTIVE: To evaluate prospectively seriously ill patients' characteristics, perceptions, and preferences associated with discussing resuscitation (CPR) with their physicians. DESIGN: Prospective cohort. SETTING: Five academic medical centers. PARTICIPANTS: Patients enrolled in the Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatments who had not communicated with their physicians about CPR at admission to a hospital for life-threatening illness (n = 1288). MEASUREMENTS: Baseline surveys of patients' characteristics, health status, desires for participation in medical decision making, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Two month follow-up surveys of patients' communication of resuscitation preference. Chart reviews for clinical indicators. RESULTS: Thirty percent of patients communicated their resuscitation preference to their physician during a 2 month-period following hospital admission. Patients whose preference was to forego CPR (odds ratio (OR) 2.9;(95% CI, 1.9-4.2)) and whose preference had changed from desiring to foregoing CPR (OR 1.6; (95% CI, 1.1-2.4)) were more likely to communicate their preference than patients who continued to prefer to receive CPR. However, only 50% of patients who maintained a preference to forego CPR communicated this over a 2-month period. Having an advance directive and remaining in the hospital at 2-month follow-up were also independently associated with communication, whereas patients' preference for participation in decision-making, health status, and prognostic estimate were not. CONCLUSIONS: Communication about resuscitation preferences occurred infrequently after hospital admission for a serious illness, even among patients wishing to forego resuscitation. Factors such as declining quality of life, which were expected to be associated with communication, were not. An invitation to communicate about CPR preference is important after hospital admission for a serious illness. Novel approaches are needed to promote physician-patient discussions about resuscitation.

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