The utility of standardized advance directives: the general practitioners' perspective

Otte, Ina Carola and Elger, Bernice and Jung, Corinna and Bally, Klaus Walter. (2016) The utility of standardized advance directives: the general practitioners' perspective. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 19 (2). pp. 199-206.

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Advance directives (AD) are written documents that give patients the opportunity to communicate their preferences regarding treatments they do or do not want to receive in case they become unable to make decisions. Commonly used pre-printed forms have different formats. Some offer space for patients to (a) appoint a surrogate decision maker, and/or (b) to determine future medical treatments and/or (c) give a statement of personal values. So far it is unknown which forms GPs preferably use and why they decide to do so. 23 semi-structured interviews with GPs were analysed using content analysis. Interviewees mainly use short templates (to appoint surrogate decision makers) and medium length templates with checkboxes to indicate patients' preferences in regards to life prolonging measures. Especially when patients faced the progression of a disease, participants use the latter version. Only then, the interviewees remarked, patients are capable to rate concrete situations reliably. GPs also realize the importance of the verbal assessment of patients' preferences; however they rarely keep a written form of the conversation. Some GPs hand out one or more templates and ask their patients to read and think about them at home with the option to talk to them about it later on, while others prefer their patients to fill them out alone at home. Regardless of template usage, most GPs emphasize that ADs require regular updates. GPs tend to see standardized advance directives mainly as a tool to start a conversation with their patients and to identify their real preferences and values. When the patient is still not facing the progression of an already existing disease it could be sufficient to only appoint a surrogate decision maker instead of creating a full AD. However, in all other situations, appointing a surrogate decision maker should be backed up by a written statement of a patient's general values. Patients and their relatives should always have the opportunity to ask their GP for medical advice when drafting an AD. It is crucial to regularly verify and update existing ADs within the course of a disease.
Faculties and Departments:08 Cross-disciplinary Subjects > Ethik > Institut für Bio- und Medizinethik > Bio- und Medizinethik (Elger)
03 Faculty of Medicine > Departement Public Health > Ethik in der Medizin > Bio- und Medizinethik (Elger)
UniBasel Contributors:Elger, Bernice Simone
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:04 Oct 2017 06:43
Deposited On:04 Oct 2017 06:43

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