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Medicina (Buenos Aires)

Print version ISSN 0025-7680

Abstract

MATTIUSSI, Mercedes et al. Physicians´ views and perspectives on advanced directives in patients with incipient dementia. Medicina (B. Aires) [online]. 2012, vol.72, n.4, pp. 305-314. ISSN 0025-7680.

Dementia is a progressive disease in which patients lose their ability to decide and communicate. Advance directives (AD) allow patients to express their preferences on end of life care in the early stages of the disease. Primary care practitioners (PCP) are in the best position to promote AD. The aim of this study was to elicit PCPs views about the discussion of AD with early stage dementia patients. A qualitative approach was taken, focus groups and individual interviews to elderly patients´ PCPs from the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires were conducted. A purposive sampling was performed, conforming homogeneous groups according to age and seniority. The discussion was stimulated by a vignette. We performed thematic content analysis in an interdisciplinary team. Twelve PCPs = 30 year of age, 32 middle-aged and 8 over 45 years participated of the study. The youngest group favored the discussion of AD while those over 45 regarded the family as the decision maker, and thus, the discussion as useless. Besides, they expressed that our society is not mature enough to discuss AD. Difficulties in AD implementation, in predicting the evolution of a patient's disease, the span of time between the discussion and AD implementation, lack of legislation and specific institutional policies were other factors that conditioned the discussion. Younger PCPs expressed concern on the lack of communication skills and difficulties to broach this subject with patients. PCPs perspectives on AD vary, their age should be taken into account when designing strategies to their implementation.

Keywords : Advance directives; Attitude of health personnel; Communication barriers; Decision making; Dementia; Physician-patient relationship.

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