Influence of perceived functional and employment status on cardiopulmonary resuscitation directives.

J Crit Care 2003 Sep;18(3):133-41

Department of Medicine, Hamilton, Ontario Canada.

Background: Perceptions about functional and employment status before admission to the intensive care unit (ICU) may influence how patients and clinicians make decisions about cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Objective: To examine the relationship between cardiopulmonary resuscitation directives established within 24 hours of admission to the ICU and clinical perceptions of premorbid functional and employment status.

Design: Prospective observational study in 15 university-affiliated centers in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Sweden.

Patients: A total of 1,008 ICU patients aged 18 years or older expected to stay in the ICU at least 72 hours.

Measurements: By using multinomial logistic regression, we examined the relationship between functional status and employment status perceived by the ICU team 1 month before ICU admission (the independent variables) and resuscitation status (the dependent variable). Each patient had either an explicit resuscitation directive (to resuscitate or not to resuscitate), or an implicit resuscitation directive to resuscitate.

Results: On average, patients were 61.7 years (+/-17.4 y) old with an Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) II score of 21.5 (+/-8.7); 846 (83.9%) were ventilated mechanically within 48 hours and 345 (34.2%) died in the ICU. Most patients (793, 78.7%) had no explicit resuscitation directive; 98 (9.7%) had an explicit plan to resuscitate, whereas 117 (11.6%) had an explicit plan of do-not-resuscitate. Of 1,008 patients, 98 (9.7%) were severely functionally limited, 217 (21.5%) were somewhat limited, 628 (62.3%) were totally independent, and 65 (6.4%) had unknown functional status 1 month before ICU admission. Severe functional status impairment was associated moderately with an explicit plan to resuscitate (odds ratio, 2.2 relative to no explicit directive) and associated strongly with an explicit do-not-resuscitate plan (odds ratio, 6.2 relative to no explicit directive, P value on the difference =.011). This relationship was not influenced by age, sex, APACHE II score, medical or surgical status, admission diagnosis, employment status, or city. However, severe functional status was associated strongly and significantly with an explicit do-not-resuscitate directive among those who could not participate in decision making (odds ratio, 8.2; 95% confidence interval, 4.5-15.0), and more weakly associated in those who could participate (odds ratio, 1.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.3-8.6). Being unemployed was associated with an increased odds of an explicit resuscitation directive versus no explicit directive (odds ratio, 5.5; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-13.4).

Conclusions: Functional status impairment perceived by the ICU team is associated clearly with do-not-resuscitate directives in patients unable to participate in decision making. However, the association appears much weaker in patients able to participate in decision making. PATIENTS' perceived employment status also may influence resuscitation decisions. Our results emphasize the challenges of ensuring that crucial resuscitation decisions are not affected adversely by patients' inability to participate in decisions, and by their functional and employment status.

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September 2003
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