In order to treat patients in accordance with their preferences as much as possible, you have to know what these preferences are. In our study we tried to resolve a part of the question what people want at the end of life in close connection to Advance Directives (ADs), because these documents are a mean to make one's preferences known. As research population a representative sample of the Dutch population (n=1402) and a cohort of people who own an AD (n=5836) were used. In written questionnaires, the participants were asked about their treatment preferences in two hypothetical scenarios, one concerning an advanced stage of cancer and the other concerning an advanced stage of dementia. The treatments included artificial feeding and hydration, resuscitation, antibiotics and artificial respiration. The results show that the preferences of the majority of people who own ADs are consistent with the document. However for some standard ADs, given out by patient organisations, this is not the case. Owners of the most common standard ADs and the general population are both more inclined to forgo treatment, but the former are more explicit. Also people distinguish between the different scenarios and treatments. Besides the results regarding people owning an AD, the authors will present how certain background characteristics, ideas and experiences with regard to the end of life are related with preferences to forgo or continue treatment.
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