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CIHR invests in Queen's-led study on end-of-life decision making

At a time when there is tremendous concern about the utilization of technology at the end of life and the costs of technology, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) has funded a multi-center study aimed to improve end of life decision making amongst seriously ill, elderly hospitalized patients. Queen's University is one institution receiving funding for this initiative.

"Canada's aging population is increasingly exposed to potentially unwanted technology at the end of life," says Daren Heyland, a professor of medicine at Queen's University, staff physician at Kingston General Hospital and Scientific Director of the Technology Evaluation in the Elderly Network. "Mounting evidence suggests that technology-laden end of life care is associated with poorer ratings of quality of life and increased family anxiety and depression. We need to understand what is happening currently, with respect to end of life decision-making, before we can improve things."

The DECIDE study looks at end of life care from the perspectives of hospital-based physicians and nurses examining barriers to communication about end of life care goals. Researchers will assess processes for improving decision making, while also exploring doctors' and nurses' views about their suitability for fulfilling the care goals with seriously ill hospitalized patients and their families.

Data will be collected from questionnaires distributed to over 1,000 staff physicians, residents and nurses from 12 hospitals across Canada, and from an additional 120 interviews involving front line staff. The results will form new strategies to improve communication and decision making.

The DECIDE study is a logical extension of Dr. Heyland's prior work, the ACCEPT study, wish is examining the same issues but from the patients' and families' perspectives.

The results of the ACCEPT study are being released April 16, National Advance Care Planning Day.

Both studies are funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).


Contact: Anne Craig
Queen's University

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