The status of the do-not-resuscitate order in Chinese clinical trial patients in a cancer centre

Jacqueline Ming Liu, Wei Chun Lin, Yuh Min Chen, Hsiao Wei Wu, Nai Shun Yao, Li Tzong Chen, Jacqueline Whang-Peng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Objective - To report and analyse the pattern of end-of-life decision making for terminal Chinese cancer patients. Design - Retrospective descriptive study. Setting - A cancer clinical trials unit in a large teaching hospital. Patients - From April 1992 to August 1997, 177 consecutive deaths of cancer clinical trial patients were studied. Main measurement - Basic demographic data, patient status at the time of signing a DNR consent, or at the moment of returning home to die are documented, and circumstances surrounding these events evaluated. Results - DNR orders were written of 64.4% of patients. Patients in pain (odds ratio 0.45, 95% CI 0.22-0.89), especially if requiring opioid analgesia (odds ratio 0.40, 95% CI 0.21-0.77), were factors associated with a higher probability of such an order. Thirty-five patints were taken home to die, a more likely occurrence if the patient was over 75 yerars (odds rtatio 0.12, 95% CI 0.04-0.34), had children (odds ratio 0.14, 95% CI 0.02-0.79), had Taiwanese as a first language (odds ratio 6.74, 95% CI 3.04-14.93), or was unable to intake orally (odds ratio 2.73, 95% CI 1.26-5.92). CPR was performed in 30 patients, none survived to discharge. Conclusions - DNR orders are instituted in a large proportion of dying Chinese cancer patients in a cancer centre, however, the order is seldom signed by the patient personally. This study also illustrates that as many as 20% of dying patients are taken home to die, in accordance with local custom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-314
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • AAD: discharge against advice
  • CPR: cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • DBR: do not resuscitate
  • End-of-life directives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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