The purpose of this study is to assess whether patients will execute an advance directive which offers a limited trial of life-sustaining therapy in non-terminal illness, declines life-sustaining therapy or artificial nutrition in advanced dementia, or declines life-sustaining therapy in general. Advance directives (ADs) as currently drafted have been questioned since they have not had much effect on end-of-life care. However, the reason for the lack of success may be simply that they rarely apply. Traditional ADs, which are limited to terminal illness or persistent vegetative states, are difficult to apply to the more common cases of critical illness in the setting of potentially reversible disease and advanced dementia, which are often not recognized as terminal. In addition, terminal ADs are drafted too narrowly for patients who do not wish for life-sustaining therapy regardless of condition.
Patients may execute either AD at the conclusion of the survey. This research has the potential to demonstrate widely reproducible methods on which more precise advance planning can be based and thereby improve end-of-life care.