Are Preferences for Aggressive Medical Treatment Associated with Healthcare Utilization in the Very Old?

Steven M. Albert, June R. Lunney, Lei Ye, Robert Boudreau, DIane Ives, Suzanne Satterfield, Cameron M. Kaplan, Teresa Waters, Hilsa N. Ayonayon, Susan M. Rubin, Anne B. Newman, Tamara Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine the relationship between end-of-life (EOL) treatment preferences and recent hospitalization or emergency department (ED) care in the very old. Design: Quarterly telephone follow-up of participants in the EOL in the Very Old cohort. Setting: The EOL in the Very Old Age cohort drew from 1403 participants in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) study who were alive in year 15 of follow-up. 87.5% (n = 1227) were successfully recontacted and enrolled. Participants: Preferences for treatment at the EOL and reported hospital and ED use were examined for 1118 participants (18% involving proxy reports) over 6 months, 1021 (16% with proxy reports) over 12 months, and 945 (23% with proxy reports) over 18 months in 6-month intervals. Measurements: Preferences for eight EOL treatments, elicited once each year; hospitalization and ED use reported every six months. Results: Preferences for more aggressive treatment (endorsing ≥5 of 8 options) were not significantly associated with inpatient or ED treatment. Inpatient and ED treatment were not associated with changes in preferences for aggressive EOL treatment over 12 months. Conclusion: Alternative measures that tap attitudes toward routine care, rather than EOL treatment preferences, may be more highly associated with healthcare utilization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-624
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2017, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • Cohort studies
  • End-of-life
  • Health ABC
  • Healthcare utilization
  • Treatment preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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