Hong Kong Med J 2012;18:178–85 | Number 3, June 2012
Is it feasible to discuss an advance directive with a Chinese patient with advanced malignancy? A prospective cohort study
SY Wong, SH Lo, CH Chan, HS Chui, WK Sze, Y Tung
Department of Clinical Oncology, Tuen Mun Hospital, Tuen Mun, Hong Kong
OBJECTIVES. Advance directives have been implemented for years in western countries, but the concept is new to Asian cultures. According to traditional Chinese culture, family members usually play a decisive role in a patient's treatment plan. Thus it may be hard to implement an advance directive despite its importance to the treatment of patients. The objectives of this study were to assess the feasibility of advance directive engagement and to explore significant contributing factors to achieving such a goal.
DESIGN. Prospective cohort study.
SETTING. Palliative Care Unit of Clinical Oncology, Tuen Mun Hospital, Hong Kong.
PATIENTS. The subjects of the investigation were adult patients diagnosed to have advanced malignancy and newly referred to the hospice service from 24 April 2009 to 30 July 2009. Data were collected from nursing assessment forms, locally designed advance directive forms, a checklist completed by oncologists, and details available in the electronic hospital record.
RESULTS. Of the 191 eligible patients, 120 (63%) had the advance directive, whereas 71 (37%) did not. In the Cox regression model, the patient having insight of a poor prognosis was the most significant factor facilitating advance directive engagement (P=0.001). Any family objection in the discussion of advance directives was also an important factor, though it did not reach statistical significance (P=0.082). Other factors like age, gender, education, religion, financial status, living environment, understanding the diagnosis, bereavement experience, type of cancer, nature of illness, courses of chemotherapy or radiotherapy received, main caregiver, in-house supporter, nurse-led clinic attendance, clinical psychologist consultation, and in-patient hospice nurse coordinator interview were all statistically insignificant.
CONCLUSIONS. Our study demonstrated that it was feasible to discuss an advance directive with Chinese patients with advanced malignancy. When patients have insight about their poor prognosis and family members have no objection, it may be appropriate to discuss an advance directive.
Key words: Advance care planning; Advance directives; Neoplasms; Patient self-determination act; Terminal care
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