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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2007 Mar;62(2):S135-41.

End-of-life health care planning among young-old adults: an assessment of psychosocial influences.

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Department of Sociology and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, USA.



End-of-life planning among healthy older adults may protect them from unwanted medical treatments in later life, in the event that they become incapable of making health care decisions for themselves. We explore two formal and one informal components of end-of-life planning (living will, durable power of attorney for health care, and discussions) and assess whether one's health and health care encounters, personal beliefs, and experience with others' deaths affect these practices.


Using two waves of data (1992-1993 and 2004) from the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, we estimated binary and multinomial logistic regression models to predict end-of-life preparations among a sample of community-dwelling persons aged 64-65 (N=3,838).


Recent hospitalizations, personal beliefs (Death Avoidance and the belief that doctors should control health care decisions), and recent experience with the painful death of a loved one all influence end-of-life preparations. Consistent with past studies, we also found that education, gender, marital status, and religious affiliation affect end-of-life planning.


Health care providers may encourage end-of-life preparations by assuaging patients' death anxiety and fostering decision-making autonomy. Initiating discussions about recent deaths of loved ones may be an effective way to trigger patients' own end-of-life preparations.

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