Advance Care Planning Needs Improvement to Ensure End-of-Life Care Preferences

April 7, 2017 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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A study on the relationship between participation in advance care planning and surrogate knowledge reveals individuals often do not effectively communicate their end-of-life care preferences, suggesting that interventions should expand engagement to include surrogates, according to a March 20, 2017, article published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. Authors of the study interviewed 350 veterans 55 years of age or older—of these, 40% had six or more chronic conditions and 43% of whom had difficulty with at least one functional activity—and their surrogates, who were mostly spouses (52%) or children (27%). The study found that more than 40% of the participating veteran-surrogate pairs agreed that the veterans either did not discuss their end-of-life preferences with their surrogates or did not complete a living will or health care proxy, and only 20% of surrogates in pairs who agreed that end-of-life preferences had not been discussed could accurately predict preferences about life-sustaining treatment.

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