Study: Patients Want to Assist With Health Care Decisions

HealthDay News — A large majority of older adults prefer to participate actively in health care decisions, according to a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Jennifer L. Wolff, PhD, and Cynthia M. Boyd, MD, MPH, both from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, analyzed data from a nationally representative survey of adults aged 65 years and older, conducted in concert with the 2012 National Health and Aging Trends Study (n = 2,040), to understand the social context in which older adults manage their health.

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The researchers found that approximately two-thirds of older adults (69.4%) self-manage and that one-third co-manage (19.6%) or delegate (11%) health care activities. The majority of respondents prefer an independent or shared role when making health decisions with doctors (84.7%) and family/close friends (95.9%). More than one-third (37.9%) find that managing health care activities is sometimes or often hard for either them or their family/close friends, that health care activities get delayed or don’t get done, or that they are cumulatively too much to do (treatment burden).

“Attaining person-centered and family-centered care will require strategies that respect diverse decision-making preferences, minimize treatment burden, and support the broader social context in which older adults manage their health,” concluded the authors.


  1. Wolff J, Boyd C. A Look at Person-Centered and Family-Centered Care Among Older Adults: Results from a National Survey. J GEN INTERN MED. 2015. doi:10.1007/s11606-015-3359-6.