No effective cure is available for neurogenetic diseases such as Huntington disease, spinocerebellar ataxias, and Friedreich ataxia, all of which cause progressive motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms leading, in the long term, to severe communication (among other) impairments. In end-of-life situations, advanced directives (indications formulated by the patient about end-of-life choices) are one decision-making resource for relatives, caregivers, and health care professionals. Given the slowly progressive nature of these diseases, the related disabilities, and their hereditary component, patients, caregivers, and neurologists are often at a loss concerning the right course of action to take. This study's aim was to explore patients' and caregivers' perceptions, needs, and expectations around anticipated end-of-life discussions and advanced directives. DIRAGENE is an observational, cross-sectional, mixed-methods study with a patient-centered component and a primary caregiver-centered component. Observations include disease severity, psychosocial, and emotional scales; in-house questionnaires; and semidirected interviews. 124 participants were included, of which 81 were patients and 43 primary caregivers. Only 16% of the participants knew specifically about advanced directives and 7% had written documents vs 30% and 18% in the general French population, respectively, adjusted for age. Qualitative analysis of the interviews with 15 couples showed notable dissimilarities in ideas about advanced directives between patients and caregivers and that the underlying pathology, severity, and inheritability are less relevant factors regarding end-of-life discussions than age, environment, prior experiences with death, and history of family illness. Most patients (95%) and caregivers (98%) found that participating in the study was helpful in bringing awareness to end-of-life issues, wished to prioritize discussing them with loved ones, and requested assistance in managing them throughout the course of the disease. Being affected by severe neurogenetic diseases does not seem to prompt individuals to give much thought to end-of-life planning. However, patients and caregivers welcome comprehensive information and expect progressive support from trained health care professionals in having such discussions. Routine integration of these conversations into medical management through a holistic and adapted approach will benefit patients with illnesses with unfavorable long-term prognoses.

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