POST Forms More Than Advance Directives Associated With Out-of-Hospital Death: Insights From a State Registry

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2016 Feb;51(2):240-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.10.003. Epub 2015 Oct 23.


Context: Patients' end-of-life care outcomes often do not reflect their preferences. Ninety-two percent of West Virginians prefer to die outside the hospital, yet only 58.8% do.

Objectives: To compare out-of-hospital death (OHD) between those with completed advance directive (AD) and Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) forms.

Methods: This was a retrospective cohort study of 2027 West Virginians who submitted AD and/or POST forms to the West Virginia e-Directive Registry and died between October 1, 2010 and December 31, 2013. A multivariable logistic regression model examined the relationship between OHD by form type while adjusting for age and enrollment in hospice.

Results: Patients who completed an AD were significantly less likely to have an OHD (56.9%) than those who completed a POST form with comfort measures orders or a POST form with limited/full intervention orders (88.4% and 75.9%, respectively, P < 0.001). The odds of OHD were significantly higher for patients with POST forms with comfort measures orders than for those with ADs (OR 4.239, P < 0.001).

Conclusion: A prospective study is needed to validate that a statewide POST program and registry provide a more effective way than ADs to express, document, and honor patients' preferences for an OHD.

Keywords: Advance care planning; POLST; advance directives; electronic registry; end of life; site of death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advance Directives / statistics & numerical data*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Hospice Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Mortality*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nursing Homes / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care / methods
  • Terminal Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • West Virginia / epidemiology