This study identifies factors that affect decisions people make regarding whether they want to receive life-sustaining treatment. It is an interpretive-descriptive study based on qualitative data from three focus groups (N = 23), representing a diverse population in central Pennsylvania. Study sites included a suburban senior center serving a primarily White, middle-class population; an urban senior center serving a frail, underserved, African American population; and a breast cancer support group. The most important factors affecting whether participants wished to receive life-sustaining medical treatment were prognosis, expected quality of life, burden to others, burden to oneself in terms of the medical condition and treatment, and effect on mental functioning and independence. Our findings contribute to the knowledge of the complex factors that influence how people make decisions about advance care planning and life-sustaining treatments. This understanding is critical if nurses are to translate the patient's goals, values, and preferences into an actionable medical plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-44
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 7 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health


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