End-of-Life Video May Change Preferences of Cancer Patients

Study finds patients prefer comfort care rather than life-prolonging care
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with advanced cancer who watch a video with end-of-life options after a verbal description of those options are more likely to prefer symptom relief and avoid life-prolonging care such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) compared with patients who only receive the verbal description, according to a study published online Nov. 30 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Areej El-Jawahri, from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues randomly assigned 50 patients with malignant gliomas to either a verbal description of goals-of-care options at the end of life alone or followed by a video depicting the same options: life-prolonging care (CPR, ventilation), basic care (hospitalization, no CPR), and comfort care (symptom relief).

The researchers found that significantly fewer patients who watched the video preferred life-prolonging care (0 versus 25.9 percent), fewer preferred basic care (4.4 versus 51.9 percent), and more preferred comfort care (91.3 versus 22.2 percent). The video group had a significantly higher mean uncertainty score (13.7 versus 11.5). Most of the patients (82.6 percent) in the video group reported being very comfortable watching the video.

"Using video images to educate patients on various end-of-life interventions and outcomes is palatable to patients, leads to more informed decision making, and may potentially lead to higher quality end-of-life care," El-Jawahri and colleagues conclude.

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