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Predictors of survival in nursing home patients with severe dementia in whom artificial nutrition and hydration forgone

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2006

H. Roeline W. Pasman
Affiliation:
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Nursing Home Medicine, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Bregje D. Onwuteaka-Philipsen
Affiliation:
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Didi M. W. Kriegsman
Affiliation:
Nursing Home Slotervaart, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Marcel E. Ooms
Affiliation:
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Nursing Home Medicine, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Gerrit van der Wal
Affiliation:
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Public and Occupational Health, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Miel W. Ribbe
Affiliation:
Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Department of Nursing Home Medicine, VU University medical center, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract

Background: To investigate the characteristics of patients in whom artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) is forgone, duration of survival after the decision and factors that are associated with duration of survival.

Methods: Observational study based on written questionnaires in 32 Dutch nursing homes. Of 178 nursing home patients with dementia, their treating nursing home physician (NHP) filled in a questionnaire directly after the decision was made to forgo ANH. The maximum follow-up was 6 weeks. Cox proportional hazards analysis was used to determine predictors of survival.

Results: Decisions to forgo ANH in Dutch nursing homes were made most often in patients with severe dementia who also had an acute illness. More than half the patients (59%) died within 1 week after the decision. Patients with dyspnea and/or apathy were more likely to die during follow-up than patients without these symptoms. Patients who were considered more severely ill by the NHP were more likely to die than those who were considered less severely ill. The presence of restlessness indicated a higher chance of survival.

Conclusions: The clinical judgment of the NHP of the severity of illness appeared to be a strong predictor of patient survival. NHPs should not rely solely on their clinical judgment concerning survival, but they should also consider the presence or absence of dyspnea, apathy and restlessness.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
International Psychogeriatric Association 2006

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