Online public information about advance care planning: An evaluation of UK and international websites

Anne Canny* (Lead Author), Bruce Mason, Clare Atkins, Rebecca Patterson, Lorna Moussa, Kirsty Boyd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Healthcare information is increasingly internet-based. Standards require websites to be ‘perceivable, operable, understandable and robust’ with relevant content for citizens in appropriate language. This study examined UK and international websites offering public healthcare information on advance care planning (ACP) using current recommendations for website accessibility and content and informed by a public engagement exercise.

Google searches identified websites in English from health service providers, governmental or third sector organisations based in the UK and internationally. Target keywords that would be used by a member of the public informed the search terms. Data extraction used criterion-based assessment and web content analysis of the first two pages of each search result. Public patient representatives as key members of the multidisciplinary research team guided the development of the evaluation criteria.

A total of 1158 online searches identified 89 websites, reduced to 29 by inclusion/exclusion criteria. Most sites met international recommendations for knowledge/understanding about ACP. Differences in terminology, lack of information about ACP limitations and non-adherence to recommended reading levels, accessibility standards and translation options were apparent. Sites targeting members of the public used more positive, non-technical language than those for both professional and lay users.

Some websites met accepted standards required to facilitate understanding and public engagement in ACP. Others could be improved significantly. Website providers have important roles and responsibilities in increasing people's understanding of their health conditions, future care options and ability to take an active role in planning for their health and care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Advance care planning
  • anticipatory care planning
  • advance directive
  • online health information
  • digital health
  • Public Involvement


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