Attitudes Toward Life-Sustaining Treatment of Older Persons in Hong Kong
Ho, Suzanne C.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 1997 Oct; 45(10): 1232-1236.
OBJECTIVES: There have been few studies of the attitudes of older Asians toward life-sustaining therapy. This paper presents the knowledge of and attitudes toward cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and life support in a group of subjects in Hong Kong. DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive study. PARTICIPANTS: Of the 543 subjects, 382 were old-age home residents and 161 were in-patients of geriatric wards. MEASUREMENTS: Sociodemographic data, functional ability (using the Barthel Index), self-perceived health scale, knowledge of life-sustaining procedures, and subjects' preferences for such treatments were studied. They were also asked to give the most important reason for wanting or declining CPR, and to indicate who they believe should be the decision-maker(s) regarding whether they should receive life-sustaining treatment. RESULTS: Approximately 80% of old-age home residents and 60% of hospitalized patients had no knowledge of life-sustaining therapy. The success rate of CPR was overestimated by older subjects, and most wished to be resuscitated. However, up to 20% changed their minds and declined CPR after they knew the true outcome of the procedure. Half of the subjects wanted life support. Univariate analysis found that advanced age and not having a spouse were associated significantly with CPR preference, whereas subjects' knowledge was associated with preference for life support. Multivariate analysis revealed that advanced age, not having a spouse, and female sex were independently associated with a tendency to decline CPR. A considerable proportion of older people wished to be involved in decision-making regarding life-sustaining treatment. CONCLUSION: Knowledge of life-sustaining procedures was poor among older people in Hong Kong compared with their counterparts in western countries. Although most older subjects wanted CPR, a number of them changed their minds after they knew the poor outcome. Therefore, older patients should be given more information about life-sustaining therapy and encouraged to take part in their treatment plans.
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