A survey of older peoples' attitudes towards advance care planning

Age Ageing. 2015 May;44(3):371-6. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afv041.


Background: advance care planning (ACP) is a process to establish an individual's preference for care in the future; few UK studies have been conducted to ascertain public attitudes towards ACP.

Objective: the aim of this study was to assess the attitudes of older people in East Midlands through the development and administration of a survey.

Design: the survey questionnaire was developed on the basis of a literature review, exploratory focus groups with older adults and expert advisor input. The final questions were then re-tested with lay volunteers.

Setting: thirteen general practices were enrolled to send out surveys to potential participants aged 65 or older. There were no additional inclusion or exclusion criteria for participants.

Methods: simple descriptive statistics were used to describe the responses and regression analyses were used to evaluate which items predicted responses to key outcomes.

Results: of the 5,375 (34%) community-dwelling older peoples, 1,823 returned questionnaires. Seventeen per cent of respondents had prepared an ACP document; of whom, 4% had completed an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment (ADRT). Five per cent of respondents stated that they had been offered an opportunity to talk about ACP. Predictors of completing an ACP document included: being offered the opportunity to discuss ACP, older age, better physical function and male gender. Levels of trust were higher for families than for professionals. One-third of the respondents would be interested in talking about ACP if sessions were available.

Conclusion: although a third of the respondents were in favour of discussing ACP if the opportunity was available with their GP, only a relative minority (17%) had actively engaged. Preferences were for informal discussions with family rather than professionals.

Keywords: advance; care; older people; planning; survey.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged / psychology
  • Aged / statistics & numerical data
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology