Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

False Memories Of Living Will Complicate End-of-life Treatment Decisions

Date:
April 26, 2008
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Advance directives, or living wills, may not effectively honor end-of-life wishes because life-sustaining treatment preferences often change without people being aware of the changes, according to a new study.

Advance directives, or living wills, may not effectively honor end-of-life wishes because life-sustaining treatment preferences often change over time without people being aware of the changes, according to a new study co-authored by UC Irvine researchers Peter Ditto and Elizabeth Loftus.

False memories can play a significant role in the discrepancy between an individual’s true preferences for end-of-life treatment and what is instructed in their living will. Life-sustaining treatment preferences often change as people age or experience new health problems, and advance directive forms typically remind people of their right to update their directives if their wishes change. This assumes that people recognize when their wishes about end-of-life treatment have changed, and remember that their current wishes are different from those documented in their living will.

“Living wills are a noble idea and can often be very helpful in decisions that must be made near the end of life. But the notion that you can just fill out a document and all your troubles will be solved, a notion that is frequently reinforced in the popular media, is seriously misguided,” said Peter Ditto, professor of psychology and social behavior at UCI.

In research reported in the current issue of the American Psychological Association journal Health Psychology, a sample of 401 adults older than 65 were interviewed about which life-sustaining treatments they would want if they were seriously ill. They were interviewed again 12 months later to test their recall of earlier decisions.About one-third of participants changed their wishes regarding medical treatment such as CPR and “tube feeding” over the course of the year, and in 75 percent of these cases, participants falsely remembered that their original views on the issues matched their new ones.

Interviewers also talked to individuals empowered to make medical decisions if the study subjects were no longer able. These potential surrogate decision makers were even less sensitive to changes in their loved one’s wishes, showing false memories in 86 percent of cases.

“On a policy level, these results suggest that living wills should have an ‘expiration date.’ People can’t be counted upon to update their directives as their wishes change because they often have no awareness that their wishes have changed,” Ditto said. “On a more personal level, our research stresses the importance of maintaining an ongoing dialogue among individuals, their families and their physicians about end-of-life treatment options,” he continued.

The study was conducted by Ditto, Loftus, Maryanne Garry of Victoria University of Wellington, Jill A. Jacobson of Queen’s University and Stefanie J. Sharman of the University of New South Wales.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "False Memories Of Living Will Complicate End-of-life Treatment Decisions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080426083329.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2008, April 26). False Memories Of Living Will Complicate End-of-life Treatment Decisions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080426083329.htm
University of California - Irvine. "False Memories Of Living Will Complicate End-of-life Treatment Decisions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080426083329.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins