What Paradox? Patients Nor Doctors Want To Plan For Death.
Only 5 patients reported a discussion about ADs with their oncologist. When they asked patients if they would like to discuss ADs with their oncologist, only 23% said they would (this is similar to the finding in the study 10 years ago). When, however, they asked patients which, of all their doctors, they would prefer to discuss ADs, a plurality said their oncologist (48%). That is, if they have to do it, they'd prefer their oncologist. Notably the vast majority of patients (87%) thought that physicians admitting a patient to the hospital should ask about ADs (they indicated this was not only ok but an important thing to do). Thus, the title of their article, and this post - 'Paradoxes in ACP....'
(They also asked patients about knowledge of hospice care and palliative care. 21% of patients reported knowledge of 'palliative care' vs. 81% for 'hospice care,' and hardly anyone said they knew anyone who had received palliative care.)
Dr. Nancy L. Keating, the first author of the study and an associate professor of medicine and health care policy at Harvard, said not much was known about how, when or even if doctors were having these difficult talks with dying patients. But she said that her research team suspected that communication was falling short, because studies have shown that even though most people want to die at home, most wind up dying in the hospital.
The researchers surveyed 4,074 doctors who took care of cancer patients, instructing them to imagine one who had only four to six months left, but was still feeling well. Then the doctors were asked when they would discuss the prognosis, whether the patient wanted resuscitation or hospice care, and where he or she wanted to die.
The results came as a surprise: the doctors were even more reluctant to ask certain questions than the researchers had expected. Although 65 percent said they would talk about the prognosis “now,” far fewer would discuss the other issues at the same time: resuscitation, 44 percent; hospice, 26 percent; site of death, 21 percent. Instead, most of the doctors said they would rather wait until the patients felt worse or there were no more cancer treatments to offer.
Doctor's need to take the lead in discussing end of life options with terminal and elderly patients. Their patients are waiting for them to do so.