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Decision aids can encourage advanced planning

August 1, 2014
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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It is recommended that the medical records of seriously or terminally ill patients contain advanced care planning documents to ensure that their wishes are carried out. According to a recently published article in Annals of Internal Medicine, less than 50 percent of patients at these health levels have advanced directives and physicians can correctly predict the patient’s wishes only 65 percent of the time.

Decision aids are available to assist patients in developing their goals and consider their options should they not be able to speak for themselves

There are two basic types of decision aids: (1) those developed for the general population and (2) those that are disease specific, which are developed for end-of-life decisions and distinct choices. Researchers found that widely available decision aids have not been assessed for their effectiveness, while those decision aids that have been assessed are not widely available.

“Advance care planning decision aids often lack systems to encourage routine reconsideration of preferences,” according to the study. Having advanced directives in the medical file is not final. As health status changes, patients can revisit the documents and change their preferences.