End-of-Life Decision-Making Video Aids Heart Failure Patients

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End-of-Life Decision-Making Video Aids Heart Failure Patients
End-of-Life Decision-Making Video Aids Heart Failure Patients

THURSDAY, June 30, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Watching a video about end-of-life care options may help patients with advanced heart failure choose the approach best for them, according to a study published online June 29 in Circulation.

The study included 246 advanced heart failure patients, average age 81, who were given verbal descriptions of three end-of-life care options. These options included: life-prolonging care; limited care such as intravenous therapy and hospitalization, but no cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or intubation; and comfort care. Half the patients also watched a six-minute video that was narrated by a doctor and depicted the three levels of care. These patients were also encouraged to discuss end-of-life care with their doctor.

The researchers found that, compared to those who did not see the video, patients who watched it were more likely to prefer comfort care (51 versus 30 percent), almost twice as likely to say they did not want CPR (68 versus 35 percent), and much more likely to say they did not want intubation (77 versus 48 percent). The video viewers were also four times more likely to discuss their end-of-life choices with their doctor within three months. Patients who watched the video also were much more knowledgeable about end-of-life care levels than the others.

"Because the course of heart failure is uncertain, in part because of improved therapies, doctors may be reluctant to initiate a conversation with their patients about advance care planning," lead author Areej El-Jawahri, M.D., director of the bone marrow transplant survivorship program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center in Boston, and a member of the Video Images of Disease for Ethical Outcomes Consortium, said in a journal news release. "We found that when patients were better informed, it's easier for them and their doctors to discuss end-of-life issues."

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