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Crit Care Med. 1989 Nov;17(11):1223-7.

Comparison of the reactions of older and younger patients to intensive care.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.


To determine whether age affected the attitudes of patients to intensive care, we administered a questionnaire to 57 patients who had been hospitalized in our ICU or coronary care unit (CCU). The 28 men and 29 women ranged in age from 20 to 92 yr (mean 58.4). Nineteen patients were greater than or equal to 70 yr and nine were greater than or equal to 80 yr. The "intensity" and "severity" of the treatments were similar in the older and younger patients, both men and women, in the ICU and CCU. The great majority of the patients, both old and young, were satisfied with their treatment and outcome, and expressed willingness to undergo similar treatment(s) in the future, if needed. Only five patients were dissatisfied with their treatment: two were greater than 70 yr, the other three were 27, 62, and 65 yr. We did not interview a large number of patients and thus, cannot draw far-reaching conclusions without additional study. Nevertheless, although we expected that older patients would be particularly distressed about their treatments and hence, say they would decline them in the future, in this study both the older and the younger patients were highly accepting of the treatment they received.

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