Would you like to be admitted to the ICU? The preferences of intensivists and general public according to different outcomes

This research by Furnis and collaborators was first published on line in late June 2019 in the Journal of Critical Care.
Background:  Discussions about invasiveness of care (advanced directives) and end-of-life issues have become frequent among intensivists and patients. Nevertheless, there are considerable divergences in the attitudes between intensivists and patients toward end-of-life care in the intensive care units (ICU).
Methods:  The goal was to compare the preferences between intensivists and general public regarding ICU admission of a hypothetical patient with six different clinical outcomes. For that, intensivists and the general public (university graduate professionals outside the area of health) were invited to participate in this study. A survey was conducted with a hypothetical patient with six different clinical outcomes ranging from ICU discharge without any neurological sequelae, nor dependence for daily activities, to death. The WHOQOL-BREF was applied. Comparisons were made between the answers provided by intensivists regarding what they would choose for themselves and their patients, and the preferences of general public.
Results:  Between July 2013 and July 2016, 300 participants in 5 hospitals in São Paulo, Brazil were invited to participate in this study, of whom 257 (85.7%) responded the survey. Eighty-two intensivists responded what they would choose for themselves, 81 intensivists responded what they would choose for their patients, and 94 people from general public responded what they would choose for themselves. Quality of life did not differ among the groups. In all scenarios, except when the outcome was severe disability or death, intensivists were more likely to choose ICU admission for their patients than for themselves (p < .05 for all). Compared with general public, intensivists were more likely to choose ICU admission for themselves only when the best clinical scenario outcome is considered (p < .001). General public was significantly less prone to choosing ICU admission than intensivists when choosing for their patients, in three out of six scenarios (p < .001 for all).
Conclusions:  Considerable divergences exist between intensivists’ and patients’ preferences toward end-of-life care. Advanced care planning and effective ongoing communication among intensivists, patients and relatives are essential to improve end-of-life decisions and the quality of care.
The full text of this article is available to subscribers via this link to the journal’s homepage.  The full text of articles from issues older than sixty days is available via this link to an archive of issues of Journal of Critical Care.  A Rotherham NHS Athens password is required.  Eligible staff can register for an Athens password via this link.  Please speak to the library staff for more details

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