Terminally Ill Taiwanese Cancer Patients’ and Family Caregivers’ Agreement on Patterns of Life-Sustaining Treatment Preferences Is Poor to Fair and Declines Over a Decade: Results From Two Independent Cross-Sectional Studies

Tsang Wu Liu, Fur Hsing Wen, Cheng Hsu Wang, Ruey Long Hong, Jyh Ming Chow, Jen Shi Chen, Chang Fang Chiu, Siew Tzuh Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)


Context/Objective Temporal changes have not been examined in patient-caregiver agreement on life-sustaining treatment (LST) preferences at end of life (EOL). We explored the extent of and changes in patient-caregiver agreement on LST-preference patterns for two independent cohorts of Taiwanese cancer patient-family caregiver dyads recruited a decade apart. Methods We surveyed preferences for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, intensive care unit care, cardiac massage, intubation with mechanical ventilation, intravenous nutritional support, tube feeding, and dialysis among 1049 and 1901 dyads in 2003–2004 and 2011–2012, respectively. LST-preference patterns were examined by multi-group latent class analysis. Extent of patient-caregiver agreement on LST-preference patterns was determined by percentage agreement and kappa coefficients. Results For both patients and family caregivers, we identified seven distinct LST-preference classes. Patient-caregiver agreement on LST-preference patterns was poor to fair across both study cohorts, indicated by 24.4%–43.5% agreement and kappa values of 0.06 (95% CI: 0.04, 0.09) to 0.27 (0.23, 0.30), and declined significantly over time. Agreement on LST-preference patterns was most likely when both patients and caregivers uniformly rejected LSTs. When patients disagreed with caregivers on LST-preference patterns, discrepancies were most likely when patients totally rejected LSTs but caregivers uniformly preferred LSTs or preferred nutritional support but rejected other treatments. Conclusion Patients and family caregivers had poor-to-fair agreement on LST-preference patterns, and agreement declined significantly over a decade. Encouraging an open dialogue between patients and their family caregivers about desired EOL care would facilitate patient-caregiver agreement on LST-preference patterns, thus honoring terminally ill cancer patients’ wishes when they cannot make EOL-care decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-45.e4
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2017



  • Agreement
  • cancer
  • end-of-life care
  • life-sustaining treatments
  • oncology
  • preferences
  • surrogate decision-making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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