Characteristics of Patients With Existing Advance Directives: Evaluating Motivations Around Advance Care Planning

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Abstract

Introduction:

Although 80% of patients endorse an advance directive (AD), less than 35% of American adults have a documented AD. Much research has been done on barriers to creating ADs; however, there is a paucity of research addressing motivations for creating ADs. Previous research has identified 4 categories of influence for engaging in advance care planning (ACP). This study aimed to quantify the influence of these 4 motivating categories in creating an AD.

Methods:

Participants included 238 adults with documented ADs. Participants completed an 11-item questionnaire addressing 1 of the 4 hypothesized categories of influence in addressing ACP: concern for self; concern for others; expectations about the impact of ACP; and anecdotes, stories, and experiences.

Results:

Principle component analysis yielded 2 factors representing dignity and personal control (intrinsic factors) and societal and familial influence (extrinsic factors). Intrinsic factors were the primary and most influential motivating factors among participants. A regression analysis of individual motivating factors showed that prior to age 50, the desire to provide guidance about personal preferences for end-of-life care significantly predicted the creation of an AD, whereas after age 50, the urging of family members significantly predicted the creation of an AD.

Discussion:

Results indicated that intrinsic factors were the most influential motivator among participants of all ages. Extrinsic factors appeared to be less influential in the decision to create an AD. Motivating factors were also found to vary by age. These results may help physicians be more targeted in discussions surrounding ADs, thus saving time, which physicians identify as the main barrier in engaging in such discussions, while meeting patients’ wishes for their physicians to bring up the topic of ADs.

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