End of life treatment choices complicated by false memories

In research reported in the latest issue of the journal Psychological Association of Health Psychology, a sample of 401 adults over 65 were interviewed about what they want life-sustaining treatments if they are seriously ill. Were interviewed again 12 months later to test their recall of earlier decisions. About a third of participants changed their wishes regarding medical treatment such as CPR and “stuffing” during the year, and 75 percent of these cases, participants falsely remembered that their original point of view on issues their news.“Politically, these findings suggest that living wills should have an” expiration date. We can not count on him to update their guidelines, their wishes change because they often do not realize that their wishes have changed, “Ditto said.” On a more personal level, our research highlights the importance of maintain a permanent dialogue between individuals, their families and their physicians about end of life treatment options, he said.

“Living will is a noble idea and can often be very useful for making decisions later in life. But the idea that you can simply fill out a document and all your worries will be solved, a notion that is often reinforced in the media popular, is seriously flawed, “said Peter Ditto, professor of psychology and social behavior UCI.

False memories can play an important role in the difference between an individual’s true preferences for end of life treatment and what is required in their living wills. Life-sustaining treatment preferences often change with age or experience new health problems, and advance directive forms typically remind people of their right to update their guidelines in case of change desired. This assumes that people recognize when their wishes about end of life treatment have changed, and remember that their desires are different from those described in their living wills.

advance directive or living will, can not effectively honor end-of-life wishes because life maintenance treatment preferences often change over time without people aware of the changes, according to a new study co-written by UC Irvine researchers Peter Ditto and Elizabeth Loftus.

Interviewers also talked to the people the power to make medical decisions if the study subjects could not. These potential substitute decision-makers were even less sensitive to changes in their greeting dear, showing false memories in 86 percent of cases.

About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a first class university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is one of the fastest growing campus of the University of California, with more than 27,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 2,000 faculty members. The third largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $ 3.6 billion.

The study was conducted by Ditto, Loftus, Maryanne Garry of Victoria University of Wellington, Jill A. Jacobson at Queen’s University and Stefanie J. Sharman of the University of New South Wales.

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