Purpose: For patients hospitalized with serious illnesses, we identified factors associated with a stated preference to forgo cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), examined physician-patient communication about these issues, and determined the relationship of patients' preferences to intensity of care and survival.
Patients and methods: The study was a cross-sectional evaluation of patient preferences. The setting was five geographically diverse academic acute-care medical centers participating in the SUPPORT (Study to Understand Prognoses and Preferences for Outcomes and Risks of Treatments) project. Study participants were hospitalized patients > or = 18 years of age with 1 of 9 serious illnesses who were interviewed between days 3 and 6 after qualifying for the study. Using standardized interviews, patients provided information on demographics, preferences for CPR and other treatments, quality of life, functional status, perceptions of prognosis, and whether the patient had discussed CPR preferences with his or her physician. Data abstracted from the medical record included physiologic measures, therapeutic intensity, whether CPR was provided, and whether there was a do-not-resuscitate order.
Results: Of 1,995 eligible patients, 84% were interviewed (mean age 62 years, 58% men, inhospital mortality 7%, 6-month mortality 33%). Of the respondents, 28% did not want CPR. Factors associated independently with not wanting CPR included: hospital site; diagnosis; being older; being more functionally impaired; and patient perception of a worse prognosis. Only 29% of patients had discussed their preferences with their physician; 48% of those who did not want CPR reported such discussions. After adjusting for illness severity and factors associated with CPR preferences, patients not wanting CPR had lower intensity of care; similar inhospital mortality; and higher mortality at 2 and 6 months following study entry.
Conclusions: The diagnosis, patients' perception of the prognosis, and hospital site were significantly associated with patients' resuscitation preferences after adjusting for patient demographics, severity of illness, and functional status. The rate of discussing CPR was low even for patients who did not want CPR. Patient preferences not to receive CPR were associated with a small decrease in intensity of care but no difference in hospital survival.