A comparison of attitudes toward length and quality of life between community-dwelling older adults and patients with advanced cancer.
Applying prospect theory to end-of-life decision making, we hypothesize that community-dwelling older adults (CDOAs) will be relatively less inclined towards extending length over improving quality of life compared with patients. We also hypothesize that differences in relative inclination for length over quality of life between the 2 groups will decrease with advancing age.
We tested these hypotheses by administering the quality-quantity questionnaire to 1067 CDOAs and 320 stage IV cancer patients and applying a linear regression model to assess whether relative inclination for length over quality of life, as estimated by the questionnaire, differed between CDOAs and patients after controlling for differences in sociodemographic characteristics. We also assessed the effect of interaction between age and participant status (CDOA compared to patient) on relative inclination for length over quality of life.
Consistent with prospect theory, a lower proportion of CDOAs (26%) than patients (42%) were relatively more inclined towards length over quality of life. Results were significant even after adjusting for differences in sociodemographics (P < .01). With increasing age, the difference in relative inclination between CDOAs and patients increased (P = .01).
Findings indicate that attitudes towards length and quality of life differ by life stage. This has implications for end-of-life care decisions made by CDOAs, such as purchasing health or disability insurance and signing advance directives or care plans.
Malhotra, C; Xiang, L; Ozdemir, S; Kanesvaran, R; Chan, N; Finkelstein, EA
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