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J Soc Pers Relat. 2011 Feb 1;28(1):100-116.

The Importance of Feeling Understood in Marital Conversations about End-of-Life Health Care.

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Boston College.


This study investigates processes within marital discussions about end-of-life medical treatment preferences. The associations among marital quality, the perception of having been understood following discussion, and intentions for whom to appoint as a health care surrogate are addressed. Data from 2,969 white married couples in their mid-60s are analyzed. Four-fifths of primary respondents reported that their partners understood their preferences extremely well. Primary respondents' perceptions of high marital quality were associated with feeling extremely well understood. In turn, feeling understood partially mediated the relationship between perceptions of marital quality and the intention to appoint the partner as durable power of attorney for health care (DPAHC). Implications for research on marital communication and quality end-of-life health care are discussed.

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