Concordance between Goals of Care and Treatment Decisions for Persons with Dementia

J Palliat Med. 2018 Oct;21(10):1442-1447. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2018.0103. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


Background: Nursing home (NH) residents with dementia experience high rates of intensive treatment near the end of life. Limited research examines whether treatment is concordant with goals of care (GOC).

Objectives: We analyzed data from the GOC trial to describe family decision makers' preferred GOC and perceptions of goal-concordant care for NH residents with late-stage dementia We compared subsequent treatment orders when families chose a primary goal of comfort versus other goals.

Design: We performed a secondary analysis of data from baseline and 9-month family decision-maker interviews and chart reviews.

Setting and participants: A total of 302 dyads of NH residents and family decision makers in 22 North Carolina NHs were enrolled.

Measurements: In baseline and follow-up interviews, families reported on their and NH staff's primary GOC, and perceived prognosis and goal-concordant care. Chart reviews provided data on treatment orders, hospital transfers, and hospice, which were compared after selection of a primary goal of comfort versus other goals.

Results: Family chose comfort as the primary goal for 66% of residents at baseline, and for nearly 80% by 9 months or death. At baseline, 49% perceived concordance with NH staff on the primary goal, and 69% at follow-up. In multivariate models, choice of comfort as the primary goal, versus other goals, was associated with half as many hospital transfers (0.11 vs. 0.25/90 person-days, confidence interval [-0.2 to -0.01]), but not with hospice or treatment orders.

Conclusions: Most families chose comfort as the primary GOC. Further research is needed to translate this preference into comfort-focused treatment plans for late-stage dementia. : NCT01565642 (3/26/12).

Keywords: decision making; dementia; palliative care.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Decision Making*
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Care Planning*

Associated data