End-of-life decisions : a cross-national study of treatment preference discussions and surrogate decision-maker appointments

Evans, Natalie and Pasman, H Roeline and Vega Alonso, Tomás and Van den Block, Lieve and Miccinesi, Guido and Van Casteren, Viviane and Donker, Gé and Bertolissi, Stefano and Zurriaga, Oscar and Deliens, Luc and Onwuteaka-Philipsen, Bregje and Brearley, Sarah (2013) End-of-life decisions : a cross-national study of treatment preference discussions and surrogate decision-maker appointments. PLoS ONE, 8 (3): e57965. ISSN 1932-6203

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Background Making treatment decisions in anticipation of possible future incapacity is an important part of patient participation in end-of-life decision-making. This study estimates and compares the prevalence of GP-patient end-of-life treatment discussions and patients’ appointment of surrogate decision-makers in Italy, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands and examines associated factors. Methods A cross-sectional, retrospective survey was conducted with representative GP networks in four countries. GPs recorded the health and care characteristics in the last three months of life of 4,396 patients who died non-suddenly. Prevalences were estimated and logistic regressions were used to examine between country differences and country-specific associated patient and care factors. Results GP-patient discussion of treatment preferences occurred for 10%, 7%, 25% and 47% of Italian, Spanish, Belgian and of Dutch patients respectively. Furthermore, 6%, 5%, 16% and 29% of Italian, Spanish, Belgian and Dutch patients had a surrogate decision-maker. Despite some country-specific differences, previous GP-patient discussion of primary diagnosis, more frequent GP contact, GP provision of palliative care, the importance of palliative care as a treatment aim and place of death were positively associated with preference discussions or surrogate appointments. A diagnosis of dementia was negatively associated with preference discussions and surrogate appointments. Conclusions The study revealed a higher prevalence of treatment preference discussions and surrogate appointments in the two northern compared to the two southern European countries. Factors associated with preference discussions and surrogate appointments suggest that delaying diagnosis discussions impedes anticipatory planning, whereas early preference discussions, particularly for dementia patients, and the provision of palliative care encourage participation.

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Copyright: © 2013 Evans et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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?? agricultural and biological sciences(all)biochemistry, genetics and molecular biology(all)medicine(all) ??
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15 Oct 2013 23:03
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16 Jan 2024 00:12