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J Clin Oncol. 2003 Feb 1;21(3):549-54.

Approaching the end of life: attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of African-American and white patients and their family caregivers.

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  • 1Albert Einstein Healthcare Network, Philadelphia, PA 19144, USA. phippst@einstein.edu

Abstract

PURPOSE:

To investigate differences in attitudes, preferences, and behaviors regarding end of life in terminally ill patients and their designated family caregivers.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

68 African-American and white patients with stage III-B or IV lung or stage IV colon cancer and 68 patient-designated family caregivers interviewed between December 1999 and May 2001.

RESULTS:

White patients were more likely to have a durable power of attorney (34% v 8%, P =.01) and were more likely to have a living will (LW; 41% v 11%, P =.004) than were African-American patients. More African-American than white patients desired the use of life-sustaining measures (cardiopulmonary resusitation [CPR], mechanical ventilation, tube feeding) in their current condition (all P >.12). In a near-death condition, African-American patients were more likely than white patients to desire each of the life-sustaining measures (all P <.004). There was no patient-caregiver agreement beyond chance regarding preferences for initiation of CPR, tube feeding, or mechanical ventilation in the patient's current condition or in the near-death condition. In the near-death condition in patients without LWs, there was disagreement in 46% of patient-caregiver pairs about CPR, in 50% about mechanical ventilation, and in 43% about tube feeding.

CONCLUSION:

Although most patients and families endorse the primacy of the patient in decisions at end of life, the majority do not take supporting actions. Disagreements between patients and families about the use of life-sustaining measures in patients without LWs may result in patients' preferences being superseded at end of life.

PMID:
12560448
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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