The influence of age on the likelihood of receiving end-of-life care consistent with patient treatment preferences.
Interviews as Topic
Age differences may help to explain discrepancies in medical care received by cancer patients near death.
Understanding age differences in advanced cancer patients' end-of-life experiences.
NCI and NIMH funded multi-site prospective cohort study.
396 deceased cancer patients, mean age (58.6 +/- 12.5), in the Coping with Cancer study.
Baseline interviews (Treatment Preference) and 1 week postmortem chart reviews (Treatment Received).
14.1% of patients were 20-44 years old, 54.0% were 45-64 years old, and 31.8% were > or = 65 years old. Compared to younger patients, middle-aged patients wanted less life-prolonging care (OR 0.32; CI 0.16-0.64). In the last week of life, older patients were less likely to undergo ventilation (OR 0.27; CI 0.07-1.00) than younger patients. Middle-aged patients who preferred life-prolonging care were less likely to receive it than younger patients (OR 0.21; CI 0.08-0.54), but were more likely to avoid unwanted life-prolonging care (OR 2.38; CI 1.20-4.75) than younger patients. Older patients were less likely to receive desired life-prolonging care than younger patients (OR 0.23; CI 0.08-0.68), however, they were not more likely to avoid unwanted life-prolonging care than younger patients (OR 1.74; CI 0.87-3.47).
Likelihood of a patient's treatment preference being consistent with care differ by age and treatment preferences. Older patients preferring life-prolonging therapies are less likely to receive them than younger patients; middle-aged patients who want to avoid life-prolonging care are more likely to do so than younger patients. Both findings have implications for patients' quality-of-death, indicating a need for further research.