The use of advance directives with adolescents

Pediatr Nurs. Sep-Oct 2000;26(5):471-80.


Adolescents and their families are sometimes touched by circumstances that force them to have to make difficult "end-of-life" decisions. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports giving children a voice in their health care decision-making, but how teens want to be involved in this is not known. The purpose of this study was to explore if adolescents were interested in and comfortable with advance directives (ADs) discussions. Teens between 15 and 18 years of age (N = 107) participated in this interview study. Results of the study yielded a wide range of information about adolescents and ADs. Participants were able to pass a test used for demonstrating decision-making competency. They were willing to answer questions related to their own health care treatments as they envisioned themselves in a coma, and those responses are similar to those reported for adults. The vast majority of participants felt it was "somewhat important" or "very important" for someone their age to have a living will. Most of the adolescent participants did not report feeling uncomfortable discussing these issues.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Advance Directives / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Support Care / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Male
  • Mental Competency / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Persistent Vegetative State / nursing