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Psychosomatics. 1997 Jan-Feb;38(1):27-34.

Denying the dying. Advance directives and dialysis discontinuation.

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Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


A structured interview was administered to a sample of patients on maintenance dialysis and their attending physicians to obtain information on the documentation of their end-of-life treatment preferences. The majority of the patients reported never having considered stopping dialysis, or having discussed with their nephrologist or family the circumstances in which treatment should be discontinued. Only 7 patients (6%) had completed an advance directive; these patients were all men (P = 0.01) and tended to be better educated (P = 0.02). Only one of the nine physicians had completed an advance directive. In most cases, the dialysis patients and their treatment team staff were preoccupied with the struggles of daily life and had avoided or denied considerations of terminal illness and death. The literature on denial, medical illness, and dying is also reviewed as it relates to dialysis patients, end-of-life treatment, and terminal care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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