Researchers at the University of Michigan have published Advance Directives and Outcomes of Surrogate Decision Making Before Death (abstract link) in the April 1, 2010, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study included 3,746 participants and focused on their end-of-life decisions between 2000 and 2006. Another article about the end-of-life research is at Medline Plus.
Visit the media news study summary from the University of Michigan Health Systems which describes the findings about end-of-life decision making. In the accompanying YouTube video presented by the lead author, Maria J. Silveira, M.D., M.P.H. the cogent points of the research are covered, and this is also an excellent video to share with parents and to use in our own end-of-life planning. Interesting points include:
- About 61% of the people in the study had advanced directives.
- More than 90% requested limited or comfort care at the end of life.
- In general people got the care that they had requested in their directives.
- More than 29% of the participants in the study needed another person to make a medical decision on their behalf as the end of their lives approached.
- The study’s lead author recommends this site at Caring Connections as a reliable place to find free end-of-life form downloads from all 50 states.
End-of-life decisions, even when a family has the support of caregivers, hospice staff, and other dedicated supporters, are difficult. By taking time to make these decisions carefully, our parents give us a clear guidance about the steps we should take at the end-of-life, and these decisions make a difficult time less stressful. We need to do the same for our children.