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Prospective end-of-life treatment decisions and perceived vulnerability: Future time left to live and memory self-efficacy

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Objective: Public policy and opinion support autonomous medical decision-making; however, research on perceptions related to future functioning that may influence health-related decisions is limited. Additional research is needed to understand individual perceptions for engaging in future life-sustaining treatment decisions. Methods: Perceived time left to live and memory self-efficacy were assessed among 77 adults (M = 74.5 ± 7.18 years) indicating preferences for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, and artificial feeding and fluids in hypothetical illness scenarios. Results: Participants with a more expansive perspective of future time, less perceived change in memory, greater perceived memory capacity, and greater depressive symptomatology and Blacks/African Americans had greater overall desire for treatment. Conclusion: Differences in perceived time left to live and memory beliefs affect treatment desires in ways that may not be recognized by families and/or physicians. Identifying perceptions associated with end-of-life treatment preferences may improve interventions that facilitate quality care through patient autonomy.

Keywords: decision-making; end-of-life; life-sustaining treatment; race/ethnicity; socioemotional selectivity theory

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0348, USA,Center for Mental Health and Aging, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0315, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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