Could hypothetical scenarios enhance understanding on decision for life-sustaining treatment in non-demented Chinese older persons?

Ada W.T. Fung, Linda C.W. Lam, Victor W.C. Lui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: With increasing longevity, there is an increasing need for medical professionals to face situations in which explanation for decision on life-sustaining treatment (LST) would be required. Objectives: As advance decision making for LST in case of severe medical illness may be unfamiliar for most of the Chinese elders, we aim to explore if procedures adopted to enhance the exposure to the issue concerned would bring about improvement in knowledge toward decision for LST. Method: This was a cross-sectional study. The design was divided into three sections: (i) a pre-scenario knowledge assessment, (ii) scenario exposure (relating issues of LST using case vignettes), and (iii) a post-scenario assessment. The pre-and post-scenario assessment comprises 10 questions, exploring the understanding toward basic issues related to LST. The scenario exposure comprises two hypothetical case vignettes describing situations demanding decisions for LST. The knowledge level toward LST was assessed and compared before and after the presentation of the two vignettes. Results: One-hundred community dwelling older persons (aged over 60 years) were recruited. The scenario exposure improved the knowledge level of participants (paired samples t-test, p <0.05). Participants who were younger and better educated were more likely to perform better in the knowledge test (bivariate correlation and logistic regression, p 0.05). Conclusions: The results demonstrated that hypothetical scenarios may help to enhance and facilitate the understanding of LST. The study should be carried forward to explore the applicability of enhancement procedure to facilitate the decision making for advance directives and LST in the older community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)994-999
Number of pages6
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • advance directives
  • case vignettes
  • decision making
  • knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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