04 April 2016
advance care directives
Recruitment site location(s) (State)
Anticipated date of first participant enrolment
Ethics application status
This project is a randomised controlled trial exploring the effectiveness of electronic methods of information dissemination and prompting for encouraging completion of advance directives (ADs) by South Australian Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1965). Advance Directives are legal instruments created to address future health, welfare and financial decision-making (Office of the Public Advocate South Australia 2003). Engagement with these instruments is typically at a time of terminal illness or frail age but they actually serve a broader purpose and were designed for a broader audience including the healthy and well (Wilkinson, Wenger et al. 2007). However the generally healthy and well public in South Australia remain relatively unaware of these instruments, their specificity and purpose (South Australian Government 2008). To advance the use of these instruments, the SA Government Department of Health has recently created a new bill (The Advance Care Directives Bill, 2012) to provide the public with a consolidated information base on the application and use of these instruments. It is anticipated that this will also include an online form that can be completed and uploaded to appropriate parties and locations.
The Boomer population is targeted in this research study because there is worldwide concern of the effects this cohort will have on healthcare resource provisions (World Health Organisation, 2011). Understanding Boomer use of ADs to protect their autonomy and decision-making on future healthcare may provide critical information for healthcare policy planning when considering future healthcare resource allocation.
The design of this current research study has been based on suggestions by participants in a previous study that if ADs were made more flexible and convenient, such as in an online environment, people would be more likely to engage with these instruments. Targeting Boomers with electronic means of AD information is supported by an Australian Bureau of Statistics report (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011) indicating that Boomers in Australia and South Australia are proficient and regular users of electronic computer technologies. Researchers in the US, UK and Canada have identified that the online environment is one which may be effective in disseminating information on and assisting completion of ADs for the more technologically literate (Mueller, Reid et al. 2010; Berg 2012). The theoretical proposition or hypothesis of this research project, therefore, is that when AD information and electronic prompting about ADs are made available online to SA Boomers, completion rates and discussion of ADs will increase.
Results of this research will provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of electronic means of communication on ADs to improve completion rates by this cohort.