Patients with terminal cancer face difficult decisions. What treatment options support their goals? When is it reasonable to discontinue care? A study published in the
American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
shows that these patients may be less competent to make these decisions than their doctors think.
"Early in my graduate career, I did a lot of interviews with patients exploring their wishes for end-of-life care. But you end up talking about other things as well. I found patients who didn't know why they were in the hospital or had forgotten or weren't aware their cancer was so advanced. And I recognized these patients were still responsible for making big decisions. This study grew out of that experience," says Elissa Kolva, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and assistant professor at the CU School of Medicine Division of Medical Oncology.