Patient values in healthcare decision making among diverse older adults

Patient Educ Couns. 2022 May;105(5):1115-1122. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2021.08.031. Epub 2021 Aug 28.


Objective: To provide high-quality healthcare, it is essential to understand values that guide the healthcare decisions of older adults. We investigated the types of values that culturally diverse older adults incorporate in medical decision making.

Methods: Focus groups were held with older adults who varied in cognitive status (mildly impaired versus those with normal cognition) and ethnicity (Hispanic and non-Hispanic). Investigators used a qualitative descriptive approach to analyze transcripts and identify themes.

Results: Forty-nine individuals (49% with cognitive impairment; 51% Hispanic) participated. Participants expressed a wide range of values relating to individual factors, familial/cultural beliefs and expectations, balancing risks and benefits, receiving decisional support, and considering values other than their own. Participants emphasized that values are individual-specific, influenced by aging, and change throughout life course. Participants described barriers and facilitators that interfere with or promote value solicitation and incorporation during medical encounters.

Conclusion: Study findings highlight that in older adults with various health experiences, cognitive and physical health status, and sociocultural backgrounds, medical decisions are influenced by a variety of values.

Practical implications: Clinicians should take time to elicit, understand, and reassess the different types of values of older adults.

Keywords: Decision-making; Elders/elderly; Ethnic groups; Health priorities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition*
  • Decision Making
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Focus Groups
  • Hispanic or Latino*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research