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August 12, 1996

Involvement of Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Programs in Advance Directive Education

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix.

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(15):1746-1751. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440140186020

Background:  Cardiac rehabilitation programs represent opportunities to educate patients with cardiac disease about living wills and durable powers of attorney for health care. The extent of advance directive education that is currently provided in cardiac rehabilitation programs, however, is unknown.

Methods:  A questionnaire was mailed to nonphysician directors of cardiac rehabilitation programs to determine the programs' involvement in educating enrollees about end-of-life issues and the directors' opinions regarding the appropriateness of such education in cardiac rehabilitation curricula. Data were presented as proportions with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).

Results:  Of the 1013 cardiac rehabilitation program directors, 845 (83%) responded to the questionnaire, of which 48 stated they were no longer enrolling patients. Of the remaining 797 program directors (83%), 71% (95% CI, 67%-74%) informed patients of their prognosis, but only 18% (95% CI, 15%-20%) and 12% (95% CI, 9%-14%) asked patients if they had a living will or a durable power of attorney for health care, respectively. Only 9% (95% CI, 7%-11%) offered educational sessions on advance directives and 17% distributed advance directive informational material. Education about cardiopulmonary resuscitation was provided by 27% (95% CI, 23%-30%), but only 3% (95% CI, 2%-4%) provided information on do-not-resuscitate topics. Fifty percent (95% CI, 46%-53%) were in favor of including advance directive education and 49% (95% CI, 45%-52%) favored inclusion of do-not-resuscitate topics into curricula.

Conclusions:  Cardiac rehabilitation programs are potentially valuable but not widely used sites for educating patients with cardiac disease about advance directives.Arch Intern Med. 1996;156:1746-1751

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