End-of-Life Decisions: Family Views on Advance Directives

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A cross-sectional survey was administered to family members of patients who died at 1 of the 5 Catholic institutions comprising Mercy Health Partners, a health care system in Ohio, to determine their opinions about patient and family participation in decisions about end-of-life care. Among 165 respondents, 118 (86%) of 138 agreed that the family was encouraged to join in decisions and 133 (91%) of 146 that their family member's health care choices were followed. Most agreed that nurses answered their questions (93%, 141/151) and that the doctor communicated well with family members (83%, 128/155). Seventy percent (107/152) indicated that their family member had at least 1 advance directive. There were no differences in whether health care choices were followed when patients with formal advance directives (92%, 92/100) were compared with patients without formal advance directives (88%, 35/40). A unique survey instrument can be used to measure family perceptions and opinions of participation in decisions about end-of-life care.



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