Public perceptions of advance care planning (ACP) from an international perspective: A scoping review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Advance Care Planning (ACP) helps people discuss personal values, goals and priorities regarding future care with family and professionals. It can support care coordination and guide decision-making as health deteriorates. However, uptake remains low internationally. Poor communication and information due to Covid-19 pressures exacerbated public and professional criticism and concerns. Recent recommendations highlight the importance of understanding and addressing public perceptions about ACP combined with person-centred approaches to ACP conversations.

To explore public perceptions of ACP to inform increased public engagement and empowerment.

Joanna Briggs Institute methodology was applied in a rapid scoping review. Three databases (Embase, MEDLINE, APA PsycInfo) were searched for English language reviews and primary or secondary research studies from 2015 to 2021. Following title and abstract review, two researchers screened full-text articles and performed data extraction independently using Covidence. Charted data were analysed for themes and subthemes starting with two recent published reviews. Emerging findings were added and data synthesis reviewed by the research team, including public-patient representatives, to achieve consensus.
Of 336 studies, 20 included reviews and research papers represented diverse public views, situations and contexts. Studies found poor public knowledge of ACP and widespread perceptions of confusing or accessible information. Multiple reports described little personal relevance, perceived risks of emotional distress, fears, mistrust and misconceptions about the purpose and scope of ACP. Studies identified public concerns stemming from reluctance to discuss death and dying despite this being just one aspect of ACP. Research with minority communities and marginalised groups found intensified concerns. Some studies cited people who valued maintaining autonomy by expressing their goals and preferences.

Studies reviewed found many members of the public had negative or unclear perceptions of ACP. Improved knowledge and understanding appeared to influence perceptions of ACP but were not considered sufficient to change behaviours. The research provided valuable insights from members of the public that could inform current professional and societal debates about the future of ACP. Findings point to a need for novel approaches to ACP public information and involvement whilst bearing in mind societal norms, diverse cultures and contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107
Number of pages24
JournalBMC palliative care
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Advance Care Planning
  • anticipatory care planning
  • Palliative Care
  • primary palliative care
  • Public Opinion


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