Resuscitation. Patient and staff attitudes in the context of cancer

Cathy Owen*, Christopher Tennant, John Levi, Michael Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


One hundred oncology and hematology cancer patients from a major teaching hospital and their treating doctors were studied regarding their attitudes toward cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). A descriptive approach was used, incorporating semistructured interviews of patients and medical staff and established questiomaire measures, examining knowledge of and attitudes toward disease and treatment, and projected attitude toward CPR and current psychological functioning. One-third of the patient sample anticipated a time when they would not consent to cardiopulmonary resuscitation. This was significantly associated with good disease prognosis. Patients with a psychiatric past history were also overrepresented. It appears that patient attitude to treatment withdrawal and refusal of CPR is related to disease progression and likely to change over time. This supports a dynamic and evolving model of advance directives rather than any fixed decree. Medical staff reported that they planned to provide half the sample with intensive medical treatment (including Intensive Care support in the event of their cardiac arrest), and 32% were designated for ward-based resuscitation only. Eighteen percent would not be resuscitated. These patients were older, had more treatment side effects, and a poorer quality of life. Those patients with either a psychiatric past history or higher ratings of depressive affect were also overincluded in the doctors' "Do-Not-Resuscitate" (DNR) group. These results suggest that there are other qualitative factors (e.g., current psychological functioning and past psychiatric history) that contribute to DNR decisions beyond the usual disease-based criteria seen in formal DNR protocols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-333
Number of pages7
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


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