Dementia and Early Do-Not-Resuscitate Orders Associated With Less Intensive of End-of-Life Care: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Elizabeth A. Luth, Cynthia X. Pan, Martin Viola, Holly G. Prigerson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Dementia is a leading cause of death among US older adults. Little is known about end-of-life care intensity and do-not-resuscitate orders (DNRs) among patients with dementia who die in hospital. Aim: Examine the relationship between dementia, DNR timing, and end-of-life care intensity. Design: Observational cohort study. Setting/Participants: Inpatient electronic health record extraction for 2,566 persons age 65 and older who died in 2 New York City hospitals in the United States from 2015 to 2017. Results: Multivariable logistic regression analyses modeled associations between dementia diagnosis, DNR timing, and 6 end-of-life care outcomes. 31% of subjects had a dementia diagnosis; 23% had a DNR on day of hospital admission. Patients with dementia were 18%-40% less likely to have received 4 of 6 types of intensive care (mechanical ventilation AOR: 0.82, 95%CI: 0.67 -1.00; intensive care unit admission AOR: 0.60, 95%CI: 0.49-0.83). Having a DNR on file was inversely associated with staying in the intensive care unit (AOR: 0.57, 95%CI: 0.47-0.70) and avoiding other intensive care measures. DNR placement later during the hospitalization and not having a DNR were associated with more intensive care compared to having a DNR upon admission. Conclusions: Having dementia and a do-not resuscitate order upon hospital admission are associated with less intensive end-of-life care. Additional research is needed to understand why persons with dementia receive less intensive care. In clinical practice, encouraging advance care planning prior to and at hospital admission may be particularly important for patients wishing to avoid intensive end-of-life care, including patients with dementia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1417-1425
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • advance care planning
  • dementia
  • do-not-resuscitate orders
  • end-of-life care intensity
  • hospital death
  • terminal care


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