Advance care planning in older patients with acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes

Published:September 10, 2022DOI:



      Older patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) have worse survival rates compared to younger patients, and experience more intense inpatient healthcare at the end of life (EOL) compared to patients with solid tumors. Advance care planning (ACP) has been shown to limit aggressive and burdensome care at EOL for patients with AML and MDS. The purpose of this study was to better understand ACP from the perspective of clinicians, older patients with AML and MDS, and their caregivers.

      Materials and Methods

      We conducted semi-structured interviews with 45 study participants. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Open coding and focused content analysis were used to organize data and develop and contextualize categories and subcategories.


      Guided by our specific aims, we developed four themes: (1) The language of ACP and medical order for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) does not resonate with patients, (2) There is no uniform consensus on when ACP is currently happening, (3) Oncology clinician-perceived barriers to ACP (e.g., patient discomfort, patient lack of knowledge, and lack of time), and (4) Patients felt that they are balancing fear and hope when navigating their AML or MDS diagnosis.


      The results of this study can be used to develop interventions to promote serious illness conversations for patients with AML and MDS and their caregivers to ensure that patient care aligns with patient values.


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