Predicting end-of-life treatment preferences: perils and practicalities

J Med Philos. 2014 Apr;39(2):196-204. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jhu007. Epub 2014 Feb 13.


Rid and Wendler propose the development of a Patient Preference Predictor (PPP), an actuarial model for predicting incapacitated patient's life-sustaining treatment preferences across a wide range of end-of-life scenarios. An actuarial approach to end-of-life decision making has enormous potential, but transferring the logic of actuarial prediction to end-of-life decision making raises several conceptual complexities and logistical problems that need further consideration. Actuarial models have proven effective in targeted prediction tasks, but no evidence supports their effectiveness in the kind of broad spectrum prediction task that is the proposed goal of the PPP. We argue that a more focused approach, targeting specific medical conditions and generating treatment predictions based on the preferences of individuals with actual disease experience, is both more firmly grounded in past research and is a more prudent initial strategy for exploring the efficacy of actuarial prediction in end-of-life decision making.

Keywords: actuarial prediction; advance directives; end-of-life decision making; personal autonomy; surrogate decision making.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making*
  • Humans
  • Mental Competency*
  • Patient Preference*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*