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Chest. 2006 Aug;130(2):419-28.

Understanding cardiopulmonary resuscitation decision making: perspectives of seriously ill hospitalized patients and family members.

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Department of Medicine, Kingston General Hospital, ON, Canada.



To improve communication and decision making related to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a greater understanding of the perspectives of hospitalized patients with advanced diseases and their family members are needed.


In five Canadian hospitals, we administered a face-to-face questionnaire to older inpatients with end-stage cancer and advanced medical diseases and, where possible, to one of their family members, regarding information needs, the deliberation process, and their preferred decisional role.


A total of 440 of 569 patients (78%) and 160 of 176 available caregivers (91%) agreed to participate. Most patients (61%) had thought about what treatment they wanted if their heart stopped, few patients (11.3%) could describe more than two components of CPR, and only 2.7% of patients thought that the success rate of CPR was < 10%. A minority of patients (34%) had discussed CPR with their physician; 37% did not want to discuss their preferences with their doctor. Patients who felt that end-of-life issues were relevant to them were 5.5 times more likely to want a discussion with the physician regarding resuscitation (odds ratio, 5.5; 95% confidence interval, 2.5 to 12.0). The preferred role in decision making was variable, but most patients (59.7%) and family members (81.6%) preferred some degree of shared decision making that included the family member. There were no significant differences between cancer and medical patients in their preferred decisional role.


Seriously ill hospitalized patients have poor knowledge about CPR, and variable preferences for deliberation and their role in the decision-making process regarding their treatment. Strategies that improve understanding of CPR and foster discussions that involve patients, family members, and physicians in the decision-making process may improve the quantity and quality of communication and decision making about CPR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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