Variables that influence the medical decision regarding Advance Directives and their impact on end-of-life care

ABSTRACT The objective of this study was to identify the variables that influence physicians to implement Advance Directives and assess their impact on end-of-life care. It is a narrative literature review of 25 articles published between 1997 and 2018, in the following databases: CAPES, EBSCOhost, BDTD, VHL, Google Scholar, MEDLINE®/PubMed. The keywords utilized were: “advance directives”, “living wills”, “physicians”, “attitude”, “decision making”, “advance care planning”. The main factors that influenced physicians to implemente the directives were patients prognosis, medical paternalism, and patients understanding of their medical condition. Respect for autonomy, lack of knowledge and experience with directives, legal concerns, family influence, cultural and religious factors also contributed to medical decision. Most studies (86%) showed that having a directive led to lower rates of invasive interventions in the last days of patient´s life. Physicians were interested in respecting their patients’ autonomy and agreed that having an advance directive helped in the decision-making process; however, they stated other factors were also taken into account, mainly prognosis and reversibility conditions. Having directives contributed to reducing the use of life support therapies and adoption of comfort measures.