Accuracy of a decision aid for advance care planning: Simulated end-of-life decision making

Benjamin H. Levi, Steven R. Heverley, Michael J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Purpose: Advance directives have been criticized for failing to help physicians make decisions consistent with patients' wishes. This pilot study sought to determine if an interactive, computer-based decision aid that generates an advance directive can help physicians accurately translate patients' wishes into treatment decisions. Methods: We recruited 19 patient-participants who had each previously created an advance directive using a computer-based decision aid, and 14 physicians who had no prior knowledge of the patient-participants. For each advance directive, three physicians were randomly assigned to review the advance directive and make five to six treatment decisions for each of six (potentially) end-of-life clinical scenarios. From the three individual physicians' responses, a "consensus physician response" was generated for each treatment decision (total decisions = 32). This consensus response was shared with the patient whose advance directive had been reviewed, and she/he was then asked to indicate how well the physician translated his/her wishes into clinical decisions. Results: Patient-participants agreed with the consensus physician responses 84 percent (508/608) of the time, including 82 percent agreement on whether to provide mechanical ventilation, and 75 percent on decisions about cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Across the six vignettes, patient-participants' rating of how well physicians translated their advance directive into medical decisions was 8.4 (range = 6.5-10, where 1 = extremely poorly, and 10 = extremely well). Physicians' overall rating of their confidence at accurately translating patients' wishes into clinical decisions was 7.8 (range = 6.1-9.3,1 = not at all confident, 10 = extremely confident). Conclusion: For simulated cases, a computer-based decision aid for advance care planning can help physicians more confidently make end-of-life decisions that patients will endorse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-238
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Clinical Ethics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy


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