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Research Letter
November 26, 2018

Assessment of Surrogates’ Knowledge of Patients’ Treatment Goals and Confidence in Their Ability to Make Surrogate Treatment Decisions

Author Affiliations
  • 1Clinical Epidemiology Research Center, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven
  • 2Department of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 3Program on Aging, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
JAMA Intern Med. Published online November 26, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.5299

At patients’ end of life, surrogates are frequently called upon to make health care decisions for patients who lose capacity. Numerous studies have demonstrated that these surrogates lack knowledge of patients’ preferences,1 but patients cite the belief that their loved ones already know their wishes as a reason for not engaging in advance care planning (ACP).2 Little is known about how prepared surrogates feel to make decisions on behalf of loved ones. Similar to patients, if surrogates already believe that they know their loved ones’ wishes, they may not see the need to engage in ACP. Through telephone interviews, we examined surrogates’ confidence in their knowledge of patients’ treatment goals and their actual knowledge of these goals.

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