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Arch Intern Med. 2006 Apr 24;166(8):890-5.

Prospective study of health status preferences and changes in preferences over time in older adults.

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  • 1Clinical Epidemiology Research Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, Department of Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven 06516, USA. terri.fried@yale.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Instructional forms of advance care planning depend on the ability of patients to predict their future treatment preferences. However, preferences may change with changes in patients' health states.

METHODS:

We conducted in-home interviews of 226 older community-dwelling persons with advanced cancer, congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at least every 4 months for up to 2 years. Patients were asked to rate whether treatment for their illness would be acceptable if it resulted in 1 of 4 health states.

RESULTS:

The likelihood of rating as acceptable a treatment resulting in mild (odds ratio [OR], 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.16) or severe (OR, 1.06; 95% CI, 1.03-1.09) functional disability increased with each month of participation. Patients who experienced a decline in their ability to perform instrumental activities of daily living were more likely to rate as acceptable treatment resulting in mild (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.08-1.40) or severe (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, 1.11-1.37) disability. Although the overall likelihood of rating treatment resulting in a state of pain as acceptable did not change over time (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96-1.01), patients who had moderate to severe pain were more likely to rate this treatment as acceptable (OR, 2.55; 95% CI, 1.56-4.19) than were those who did not have moderate to severe pain.

CONCLUSIONS:

For some patients, the acceptability of treatment resulting in certain diminished states of health increases with time, and increased acceptability is more likely among patients experiencing a decline in that same domain. These changes pose a challenge to advance care planning, which asks patients to predict their future treatment preferences.

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