OPEN Research Support

Research Assistant
Carina Lundby Olesen
Hospital Pharmacy Funen, Odense University Hospital

Projekt styring
Projekt status    Planning
Data indsamlingsdatoer
Start 01.09.2020  
Slut 01.11.2020  

Preferences for discussing life expectancy among geriatric outpatients: A pilot survey

Short summary

It is important to consider the individual patient's life expectancy in relation to preventive medication use, screening needs, and personalized care planning. Despite this, health care professionals may be hesitant to initiate discussions on life expectancy due to fear of patient reaction to the topic. The aim of this study is to examine and describe the actual preferences for discussing life expectancy among Danish outpatients in a geriatric ambulatory.


Guidelines and clinical recommendations often recommend discussing a patient's life expectancy when making health decisions. The consideration of the individual patient's life expectancy is especially relevant for older people with frailty and those approaching the last part of life. The relationship between a patient's life expectancy and a preventive medication's time to benefit is an important consideration. For example, for older people with an estimated life expectancy of less than ten years, diabetes treatment guidelines recommend a less intensive treatment goal. Likewise, when prescribing statins in older persons, it is recommended to evaluate the clinical indication based on the patient's estimated life expectancy. Similarly, estimated life expectancy is an essential aspect to consider when evaluating screening needs, considering diagnostic procedures, and is also crucial in terms of individual care planning during the last part of life.

Despite this, healthcare professionals might feel that patients are hesitant to talk about their life expectancy. Healthcare professionals may fear patient reaction to the topic, feel they are taking away hope, or want to respect diverse cultural values of the individual patients. There are at the moment no published national studies about Danish patient preferences regarding discussion of life expectancy with a healthcare professional.

Description of the cohort

Outpatients in the geriatric ambulatory at Odense University Hospital, Denmark. Patients are eligible for study inclusion if they speak and understand Danish.

Data and biological material

Questionnaires collected by interview

Collaborating researchers and departments

Department of Geriatric Medicine, Odense University Hospital

  • Clinical Professor, Consultant, PhD Jesper Ryg