Advance care planning: preferences for care at the end of life

J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2004;18(1):87-109.


Predictors of patient wishes and influence of family and clinicians are discussed. Research findings on patient decision-making relating to preferences in end-of-life care are described. Advance directives and durable powers of attorney are defined and differentiated. Most patients have not participated in advance care planning and the need for more effective planning is documented. Appropriate times for discussions of such planning are described. Scenarios discussed include terminal cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, AIDS, stroke, and dementia. Patient satisfaction is discussed, as is a structured process for discussions about patient preferences. Results of patient responses to hypothetical scenarios are described. Invasiveness of interventions, prognosis and other factors that favor or discourage patient preferences for treatment are discussed. Findings resulting from research funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) are discussed. This research can help providers offer end-of-life care based on preferences held by the majority of patients under similar circumstances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning* / standards
  • Attitude to Death
  • Humans
  • Patient Participation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prognosis
  • Terminally Ill / psychology*
  • Treatment Refusal / psychology
  • United States
  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality