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National End-of-Life-Treatment Preferences are Stable Over Time: National Health and Aging Trends Study

      Abstract

      Context

      Advance Care Planning is a process of understanding and sharing preferences regarding future medical care.

      Objective

      To explore individual and national stability of end-of-life treatment preferences among a sample of older adults.

      Methods

      National Health and Aging Trends Study is a nationally representative sample of older adults. In 2012, a random sample, and in 2018, the entire sample were queried on end-of-life treatment preferences defined as acceptance or rejection of life prolonging treatment (LPT) if they had a serious illness and were at the end of their life and in severe pain or had severe disability. Using a cohort design, we explored individual trends in preferences for LPT among those with responses in both waves (pain scenario: N = 606, disability scenario: N = 628) and, using a serial cross-sectional design, national trends in LPT among the entire sample (1702 older adults in wave 2 and 4342 in wave 8).

      Results

      In the cohort study, individual preferences were stable over time (overall percent agreement = 86% for disability and 76% for pain scenarios), particularly for older adults who would reject LPT in wave 2 (overall agreement 92% for disability and 86% for pain). In the serial cross-sectional study, national trends in preferences for receipt of LPT were stable over time in the pain (27.4% vs. 27.0%, P = 0.80) and disability (15.8% vs. 15.7%, P = 0.99) scenarios.

      Conclusions

      We found that national trends in preferences for end-of-life treatment did not substantially change over time and may be stable within individual older adults.

      Key Words

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