The use of formal prior directives among patients with HIV-related diseases
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Objective:To examine the knowledge of, counseling about, and use of prior directives among patients with HIV-related disease.
Design:Cross-sectional survey with personal interviews that was part of the evaluation of a multi-site AIDS Health Services Program.
Setting:Outpatient clinics and AIDS community-based organizations.
Patients/participants:To be eligible for the survey, subjects had to be at least 18 years of age and enrolled in the AIDS Health Services Program for at least one month. 1,031 clients were interviewed in nine communities.
Measurements and main results:Of those surveyed, 61% had thought a moderate or great amount about naming a proxy for health care decisions. The majority (68%) of the patients knew about prior directives, yet only 35% had been counseled and only 28% had a prior directive. Of those counseled, physicians had counseled only 11% (38/359). Gay/bisexual men were more likely to have been counseled and to have executed a prior directive than were others. Counseling was associated with having obtained a prior directive. Counseled subjects were 3.5 times more likely to have obtained a prior directive than were those not counseled.
Conclusions:A gap exists between subjects’ knowledge and implementation of prior directives. To help bridge this gap, the authors recommend that physicians not only attend to the technical aspects of patient care, but also determine patient values concerning life-sustaining therapy and counsel patients on prior directives.
Key wordsadvance directives prior directives AIDS HIV living wills durable power of attorney
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