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Most cancer patients desire information about care options at the end of life, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Communicating such care options can be challenging and is part of advance care planning (ACP). Our prior studies with video educational media produced data on patients' categoric preferences (yes/no/unsure) for CPR; however, the thematic underpinnings of these educated preferences in patients treated for advanced cancer aren't well known.Qualitative thematic content analysis of participants' responses in a randomized trial of an educational video (V) or narrative (N) about CPR in patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancers. Responses were independently coded and categorized for thematic content by two reviewers.Of 54 study participants, 26 total (41% of V arm, 56% of N arm) articulated questions, comments, or both. Reviewer analyses demonstrated thematic consensus and resulted in seven distinct themes listed in decreasing order of prevalence: (a) ACP should be started early; (b) educational information about CPR affirmed participants' existing beliefs/knowledge/values about advanced illness; (c) participants were apprehensive about ACP but wanted to discuss it; (d) gaps in knowledge about ACP emerged; (e) CPR information was helpful/acceptable; (f) physicians should be involved in ACP; and (g) medical questions about critical illness arose.Findings identified that while sometimes difficult to discuss, advance care planning is desired, deemed helpful, and ideally begun early by clinicians, and that video education is an appropriate and affirming initiator of discussions. These themes are incorporated into our ongoing research on cancer patient-specific values and education about care options. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.