Derivation and performance of an end-of-life practice score aimed at interpreting worldwide treatment-limiting decisions in the critically ill

Spyros Mentzelopulos, Su Chen, Joseph Nates, Jaqueline Kruser, Christiane Hartog, Andrej Michalsen, Nikolaos Efstathiou, Gavin Joynt, Suzana Lobo, Alexander Avidan, Charles Sprung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Limitations of life-sustaining interventions in intensive care units (ICUs) exhibit substantial changes over time, and large, contemporary variation across world regions. We sought to determine whether a weighted end-of-life practice score can explain a large, contemporary, worldwide variation in limitation decisions.

Methods: The 2015-2016 (Ethicus-2) vs. 1999-2000 (Ethicus-1) comparison study was a two-period, prospective observational study assessing the frequency of limitation decisions in 4952 patients from 22 European ICUs. The worldwide Ethicus-2 study was a single-period prospective observational study assessing the frequency of limitation decisions in 12,200 patients from 199 ICUs situated in 8 world regions. Binary end-of-life practice variable data (1 = presence; 0 = absence) were collected post hoc (comparison study, 22/22 ICUs, n = 4592; worldwide study, 186/199 ICUs, n = 11,574) for family meetings, daily deliberation for appropriate level of care, end-of-life discussions during weekly meetings, written triggers for limitations, written ICU end-of-life guidelines and protocols, palliative care and ethics consultations, ICU-staff taking communication or bioethics courses, and national end-of-life guidelines and legislation. Regarding the comparison study, generalized estimating equations (GEE) analysis was used to determine associations between the 12 end-of-life practice variables and treatment limitations. The weighted end-of-life practice score was then calculated using GEE-derived coefficients of the end-of-life practice variables. Subsequently, the weighted end-of-life practice score was validated in GEE analysis using the worldwide study dataset.

Results: In comparison study GEE analyses, end-of-life discussions during weekly meetings [odds ratio (OR) 0.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.30-0.99], end-of-life guidelines [OR 0.52, (0.31-0.87)] and protocols [OR 15.08, (3.88-58.59)], palliative care consultations [OR 2.63, (1.23-5.60)] and end-of-life legislation [OR 3.24, 1.60-6.55)] were significantly associated with limitation decisions (all P < 0.05). In worldwide GEE analyses, the weighted end-of-life practice score was significantly associated with limitation decisions [OR 1.12 (1.03-1.22); P = 0.008].

Conclusions: Comparison study-derived, weighted end-of-life practice score partly explained the worldwide study's variation in treatment limitations. The most important components of the weighted end-of-life practice score were ICU end-of-life protocols, palliative care consultations, and country end-of-life legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Volume26
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • End-of-life care; End-of-life practice score; Intensive care unit; Life-sustaining therapy; Medical ethics; Palliative care; ROC analysis.
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Terminal Care/methods
  • Humans
  • Death
  • Palliative Care
  • Critical Illness/therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care

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