Evidence-based life expectancy and the physician (pp. 283-290)
Authors: Robert Shavelle and Christopher S. Delaney
Abstract: Physicians are often asked to opine on life expectancy. Some mistakenly believe that this is a prediction about how long a given patient will live. Others are not familiar with the scientific evidence on the topic, or with how to use it properly. In this article we offer guidance on evidence-based life expectancy. While we cannot predict exactly how long any one person will live, we can compute, various summary measures of survival such as the life expectancy often with considerable accuracy. This requires knowledge of the patient‟s history, medical conditions, and functional deficits, together with an understanding of the basics of life expectancy, the factors related to survival, and how to use the available scientific literature. An evidence-based opinion on survival is greatly preferable to reliance on anecdotal experience or gut feelings.