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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 25

of 'Advance care planning and advance directives'

25
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A critical review of advance directives in Germany: attitudes, use and healthcare professionals' compliance.
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Evans N, Bausewein C, Meñaca A, Andrew EV, Higginson IJ, Harding R, Pool R, Gysels M, project PRISMA
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Patient Educ Couns. 2012 Jun;87(3):277-88. Epub 2011 Nov 23.
 
OBJECTIVE: Recent legal changes in Germany make non-compliance with advance directives (ADs) a criminal offence. This article assesses the evidence on attitudes towards, use of, and physician compliance with ADs in Germany.
METHODS: Critical review: studies on ADs, identified from a systematic review of culture and end-of-life care in Germany (11 electronic databases, 3 journals, reference lists, and grey literature), were included. An interpretative synthesis of findings revealed cross-cutting themes.
RESULTS: Thirty-two studies (1996-2009) were identified. Key themes were: awareness; utilization; compliance; and bindingness of ADs. There was a positive trend between awareness of ADs and study publication date. Use varied between patient groups (0.3-62%) and was low amongst the general population (2.5-10%). Fears about ADs' purpose and possible abuse were identified. Physician discomfort in discussing ADs and non-compliance were reported. Physicians preferred legally binding ADs, though conflicting results were reported for patients' desired level of bindingness.
CONCLUSION: Although there is increasing awareness of ADs in Germany, there remains low use, poor communication, fears of abuse, some non-compliance and contradictory evidence regarding desired bindingness.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Although legal changes will hopefully improve compliance, low awareness, communication difficulties and uncertainties surrounding ADs must be addressed if use is to increase.
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Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB, Hospital Clínic - Universitat de Barcelona), Barcelona, Spain. n.evans@vumc.nl
PMID