Health Briefs

HEALTH BRIEFS

Health & Fitness

August 15, 2004

Often, doctors fail to observe patients' end-of-life wishes

Doctors frequently made end-of-life treatment decisions inconsistent with the stated wishes of their patients, according to a study by California's Loma Linda University School of Medicine.

Nearly two of three doctors, when presented with hypothetical cases, did not follow their patients' advance directives -- a written document or oral statement describing the type of treatment a person prefers if he or she becomes too sick to make decisions. Previous research indicates that advance directives have little effect on how doctors ultimately treat patients at the end of their lives.

For this study, 117 resident physicians and medical school faculty were asked in surveys how they would respond to six hypothetical cases involving end-of-life decisions. In each case, the patient's wishes conflicted with what the patient's family wanted, the patient's likelihood of survival or quality of life factors, forcing the doctors to make a difficult choice. The medical school professors made medical decisions that conflicted with the patients' directives 68 percent of the time, while the residents' decisions were at odds with patients' wishes 61 percent of the time. The results were published in the July 26 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Quitting smoking through hypnosis is easier for men

Hypnosis appears to be more effective for men than for women in helping them quit smoking, recent research by an Ohio State University professor suggests. Analyzing 18 previous studies on hypnosis involving 5,600 smokers, Joe Green, the study's author, found that 30 percent of men were able to quit smoking using hypnosis, while women had a 23 percent success rate. The results aren't that surprising, Green said, because men also have a higher success rate than women do in non-hypnosis smoking programs.

Women might have a more difficult time quitting because they fear gaining weight, he suggested. Most men and women gain a few pounds after they stop smoking, but women tend to gain more. Green, an associate professor of psychology, said women were also more vulnerable to depression, and smoking might be a way to cope with negative feelings.

Green presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.

-- Los Angeles Times

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