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Advance care planning preferences in Chinese nursing home residents: results from two cross-sectional studies in Hong Kong and Taiwan

BMC Palliative Care. 20(1):123. 2021
Xu X., Tu S.W., Lin C.C.*


The proportion of hospital deaths has declined in the past few decades, while the proportions of nursing home deaths have increased. This trend of increasing deaths in long-term care facilities underlines the importance of improving end-of-life care provisions in these settings to meet individual preferences and needs. Under these circumstances, a comprehensive understanding of end-of-life care preferences in local nursing home residents can help healthcare professionals and policymakers develop strategies to increase the advance directive completion rate and quality of care. This study aimed to explore and compare advance directive and end-of-life care preferences of nursing home residents in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

A structured questionnaire was developed by the research team to investigate advance directive and end-of-life care preferences in older Chinese nursing home residents. Nursing home residents with frail or pre-frail status and over the age of 64 were invited to participate in the study, and information on demographics, functional status, advance directive experiences, and end-of-life care expectations was collected through questionnaire interviews.

A total of 325 eligible participants from 32 facilities completed the survey, including 238 older residents in Hong Kong and 87 in Taiwan. A significantly lower proportion of the Hong Kong residents had completed an advance directive compared with the Taiwanese (3 vs. 13%, p = 0.001). Among participants who did not have an advance directive, 46% of the Taiwanese participants said they would consider completing one in the future, compared with 20% of the Hong Kong participants (p < 0.001). A total of 79% of the Hong Kong participants and 80% of the Taiwanese participants responded that prolonging life in the given hypothetical dying scenario was "not important" (p = 0.76). Only 14% of participants in Hong Kong and 18% of participants in Taiwan reported prior occurrence of end-of-life care discussions with family members or health professionals (p = 0.37).

This paper adds evidence in support of improving end-of-life communication and the advance directive completion rate in nursing homes in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Further research is necessary to explore cross-cultural differences in end-of-life preferences and its applications in predicting decision-making and the quality of end-of-life care.

Key Words: Advance care planning; Advance directive; End-of-life care; Long-term care; Nursing home

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(*Correspondence Author)