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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Mar;40(3):269-73.

Empowerment of the older patient? A randomized, controlled trial to increase discussion and use of advance directives.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Pritzker School of Medicine, University of Chicago, Illinois.



To see if an educational intervention directed at older outpatients would lead to increased use or discussion of advance directives and to characterize patients' reasons for not obtaining advance directives.


Randomized, controlled trial of an educational intervention versus usual care.


Outpatient geriatrics clinic of a university hospital.


One hundred and thirty-one non-demented patients over the age of 65 who did not have an advance directive documented in their record at the start of the study. Forty-eight patients were in the trial arm and 83 in the control.


All patients had their charts reexamined 6 months after enrollment to look for the presence of a living will, a durable power of attorney for health care, or a physician's note describing a discussion of advance directives. Trial patients were also re-interviewed to examine their reasons for not executing an advance directive.


Six months after the intervention, only seven of the 48 trial subjects (15%) had an advance directive or note describing discussion of advance directives in their charts compared to eight of the 83 controls (10%) (P greater than 0.05). When asked to give reasons for not obtaining an advance directive, many patients' responses pointed to procrastination as a significant barrier.


Promoting advance directive use is a complicated task. Barriers other than information and access to documents appear to be involved and need to be addressed in future efforts.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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