During serious illness, patient preferences regarding life-sustaining treatments play an important role in medical decisions. However, little is known about life-sustaining preference stability in this population or about factors associated with preference change.
We evaluated 2-month cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) preference stability in a cohort of 1590 seriously ill hospitalized patients at 5 acute care teaching hospitals. Using multiple logistic regression, we measured the association of patient demographic and health-related factors (quality of life, function, depression, prognosis, and diagnostic group) with change in CPR preference between interviews.
Of 1590 patients analyzed, 73% of patients preferred CPR at baseline interview and 70% chose CPR at follow-up. Preference stability was 80% overall-85% in patients initially preferring CPR and 69% in those initially choosing do not resuscitate (DNR). For patients initially preferring CPR, older age, non-African American race, and greater depression at baseline were independently associated with a change to preferring DNR at follow-up. For patients initially preferring DNR, younger age, male gender, less depression at baseline, improvement in depression between interviews, and an initial admission diagnosis of acute respiratory failure or multiorgan system failure were associated with a change to preferring CPR at follow-up. For patients initially preferring DNR, patients with substantial improvements in depression score between interviews were more than 5 times as likely to change preference to CPR than were patients with substantial worsening in depression score.
More than two thirds of seriously ill patients prefer CPR for cardiac arrest and 80% had stable preferences over 2 months. Factors associated with preference change suggest that depression may lead patients to refuse life-sustaining care. Providers should evaluate mood state when eliciting patients' preferences for life-sustaining treatments.