‘It’s almost superstition: If I don’t think about it, it won’t happen’. Public knowledge and attitudes towards advance care planning: A sequential mixed methods study

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Abstract

Background: Internationally, participation in advance care planning is low. Whilst a community action approach is advocated, what the public know and understand about advance care planning is unknown.
Aim: To assess public awareness, knowledge and attitudes towards advance care planning and identify strategies to raise awareness within a public health framework.
Design: Sequential mixed methods comprising a cross-sectional survey and focus group/interviews.
Setting/Participants: A random representative sample of adults from one region of the United Kingdom (n=1201; response rate 56%) completed a face-to-face survey. Twenty-five participants consented to an additional focus group/interview held in a secure accessible location or via telephone.
Results: Most participants (78.7%) acknowledged the benefits of advance care planning conversations, however, two thirds did not want to think about advance care planning or find out more at present. Respondents were reluctant to broach advance care planning as it was linked to end of life care and funeral plans, and they did not wish to cause distress to their loved one. Respondents trusted their family to respect their wishes and they considered having an advance care plan in place would be of assistance in the future. Top-down leadership, normalisation, and increased education were identified as potential approaches to overcome barriers.
Conclusions: Advance care planning was recognised as important despite limited awareness, lack of knowledge and misperceptions. Whilst a community action approach to enhance understanding and engagement was supported, a ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work; rather bespoke targeting is required with educational and media messaging aligned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1356-1365
Number of pages9
JournalPalliative Medicine
Volume35
Issue number7
Early online date17 May 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Advance care planning
  • Mixed Methods
  • knowledge
  • attitudes
  • Public

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