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Original Contribution  |   October 2002
How physicians approach advance care planning in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
Article Information
Geriatric Medicine / Neuromusculoskeletal Disorders
Original Contribution   |   October 2002
How physicians approach advance care planning in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2002, Vol. 102, 541-544. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2002.102.10.541
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, October 2002, Vol. 102, 541-544. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2002.102.10.541
Abstract

Decision-making ability regarding end-of-life issues is often compromised by dementia in patients with Alzheimer's disease. This study assessed physicians' discussions of advance care planning with patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. Data were collected by a survey of full-time faculty in the departments of Medicine and Family Medicine and the Center for Aging at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as physicians in private practice affiliated with the Kennedy Health System. Data consisted of questions that assessed whether advance care planning was provided, what specific topics were discussed, and what actions were taken if advance care planning was not offered. Of the 271 physicians to whom the survey was sent, 63 responded, for a return rate of 23%. Of those responding, 81% indicated that they counseled their patients regarding advance care planning issues, while 19% did not. Of those who provided advance care planning for their patients (N = 51), 88% discussed living wills; 53%, the durable power of attorney for healthcare; 47%, end-of-life care; and 35%, financial planning issues. Thirty-seven percent recommended an elder law attorney, and 31% made a referral to the Alzheimer's Association. Of those who provided advance care planning for their patients' caregivers (N = 51), 86% discussed living wills; 78%, nursing home care; 69%, driving issues; and 47%, end-of-life care. Twenty-five percent referred their patients to an elder law attorney. Results indicate that physicians need to be more knowledgeable and proactive in their approaches to advance care planning for patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.