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JAMA. 2005 Jul 20;294(3):359-65.

Beyond advance directives: importance of communication skills at the end of life.

Author information

1
The Center for Palliative Care and the Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Duke University, Durham, NC, USA. jtulsky@duke.edu

Abstract

Patients and their families struggle with myriad choices concerning medical treatments that frequently precede death. Advance directives have been proposed as a tool to facilitate end-of-life decision making, yet frequently fail to achieve this goal. In the context of the case of a man with metastatic cancer for whom an advance directive was unable to prevent a traumatic death, I review the challenges in creating and implementing advance directives, discuss factors that can affect clear decision making; including trust, uncertainty, emotion, hope, and the presence of multiple medical providers; and offer practical suggestions for physicians. Advance care planning remains a useful tool for approaching conversations with patients about the end of life. However, such planning should occur within a framework that emphasizes responding to patient and family emotions and focuses more on goals for care and less on specific treatments.

PMID:
16030281
DOI:
10.1001/jama.294.3.359
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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