Table 3

Participants’ Reasons and Preferences Around Discussing Life Expectancy

Reason/PreferenceWanted to Discuss Life Expectancya (n = 363)Did Not Want to Discuss Life Expectancya (n = 515)
Reason for wanting to discuss life expectancyb
 Help patient better plan life270 (72.3)
 Important to be honest and open151 (42.2)
 Other16 (4.6)
Reason for not wanting to discuss life expectancyb
 Doctors cannot predict life expectancy302 (56.7)
 May worry or depress patient272 (52.2)
 Other43 (9.7)
Acceptable for the doctor to offer to discuss life expectancy?
 Yes, as long as I can say no344 (94.8)222 (40.1)
 No, the doctor should not have brought up the topic at all16 (5.2)291 (59.9)
Want the doctor to discuss life expectancy with family or friends?
 Yes198 (57.9)65 (12.3)
 No164 (42.1)450 (87.7)
If the doctor recommends stopping cancer screening due to limited life expectancy of the patient, should doctor then discuss life expectancy with the patient?
 Yes305 (84.5)114 (21.3)
 No58 (15.5)401 (78.7)
How should the doctor describe life expectancy of about 5 years?
 In the range of a few years174 (49.2)255 (48.7)
 About a 50-50 chance to live another 5 years188 (50.8)252 (51.3)
  • a Responses to the hypothetical scenario. See Methods for description.

  • b Participants could choose more than 1 reason; therefore, percentages do not add up to 100%.