Advance directive communications practices:social worker's contributions to the interdisciplinary health care team

Soc Work Health Care. 2005;40(3):39-55. doi: 10.1300/J010v40n03_03.


This article presents a comparative study about social workers' interdisciplinary advance directive communication practices with patients at several hospitals located in upstate New York. The sample consisted of physicians (n=32), nurses (n=74), and social workers (n=29). The research surveyed advance directive communication practices by discipline utilizing a self-administered questionnaire. Advance directive communication was operationalized as a cumulative process incorporating the following phases that were measured as scales: initiation of the topic, disclosure of information, identification of a surrogate decision-maker, discussion of treatment options, elicitation of patient values, interaction with family members, and collaboration with other health care professionals. Results suggest that social workers offer distinct skills in their advance directive communication practices and discuss advance directives more frequently than either physicians or nurses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advance Directives / statistics & numerical data*
  • Communication*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Care Team / classification
  • Patient Care Team / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Role
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Social Work / statistics & numerical data*
  • Social Work Department, Hospital
  • Surveys and Questionnaires