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Advance care directive prevalence among older Australians


Media Release republished from Advance Care Planning Australia. Read the original article.

A new study by CEPAR Research Fellow Dr Craig Sinclair and colleagues has found that 70% of Australians aged 65+ are sidestepping the opportunity to control their end-of-life care, with men less likely to plan than women.

For the 30% of older Australians with some form of advance care planning (ACP) document in place, the majority of them are either incomplete, invalid or not legally binding.

The study revealed that among the 30% of older Australians with ACP documents, only 14% of these were legally-binding advance care directives (ACDs) – considered to be the gold standard of ACP documents, which can only be completed by a person with decision-making capacity.

The majority of ACP documents that were found among older Australians were ‘advance care plans’, where preferences are reported by either family or healthcare professionals. These documents can be used to guide care but are not legally binding. 

The study audited the health records of more than 4,000 older people in hospitals, GP clinics and aged care facilities across Australia. The study also found that women were more likely to have an ACD, raising questions about what can be done to increase uptake among older Australian men.  

Kimberly Buck, Linda Nolte, Marcus Sellars, Craig Sinclair, Ben P. White, Helana Kelly, Ashley Macleod, Karen M. Detering (2021): Advance care directive prevalence among older Australians and associations with person‐level predictors and quality indicators. Health Expect. 2021; 00: 1– 14.