Knowledge, attitudes, and preferences regarding advance directives among patients of a managed care organization
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OBJECTIVES: To examine attitudes, experiences, and preferences regarding advance directives (ADs) among adults of all ages. STUDY DESIGN: Subjects were surveyed regarding end-of-life (EOL) care wishes. The survey included items measuring knowledge, experiences, and attitudes regarding ADs, as well as preferences toward initiation of discussions. METHODS: Subjects included a random sample of patients (age range, 20 to >80 years) from a large midwestern managed care organization stratified by age decade. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize variables, and chi2 tests were performed to examine differences by age category. RESULTS: One hundred eighty-seven surveys were completed. The likelihood of having completed an AD increased with age (P <.001). Of those without an AD, 44% reported having talked with someone about their wishes. Many (62%) subjects thought that it was up to them to raise the topic of EOL care. However, 70% of subjects reported that they would be comfortable if their provider initiated discussion. Participants 60 years or older were more likely to report being very comfortable with their provider bringing up the subject compared with those younger than 60 years (60% vs 39%, P = .02). Few differences were found by age. CONCLUSIONS: Room for improvement exists for increasing the number of patients who complete an AD or engage in discussion of their wishes. Ways to involve healthcare providers in the process should be explored, as it seems that patients are receptive to physician-initiated discussions of ADs.