Stability Over Time in the Preferences of Older Persons for Life-Sustaining Treatment

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (1):103-114 (2013)
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Abstract

Objective: To measure the stability of life-sustaining treatment preferences amongst older people and analyse the factors that influence stability. Design: Longitudinal cohort study. Setting: Primary care centres, Granada (Spain). Eighty-five persons age 65 years or older. Participants filled out a questionnaire with six contexts of illness (LSPQ-e). They had to decide whether or not to receive treatment. Participants completed the questionnaire at baseline and 18 months later. Results: 86 percent of the patients did not change preferences. Sex, age, marital status, hospitalisation, and self-perception of health and pain did not affect preferences. Morbidity and the death of a relative did. Conclusion: Stability of preferences of older persons in relation to end-of-life decisions seems to be more probable than instability. Some factors, such as the death of a relative or the increase in morbidity, can change preferences. These findings have implications for advance directives (ADs) and advance care planning

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