Education improves care planning

17.5% more advanced directives completed

Cost and time constraints limit the amount of advanced care planning that a primary care physician can provide to patients, but when patients received educational information prior to meeting with their doctors, the number of advanced medical directives completed increases by more than 17%.1

In a study conducted at the Mayo Clinic Rochester (MN), patients aged 60 and older who were scheduled for health maintenance visits and did not have advanced medical directives were divided into a control group and an intervention group. Patients in the control group received care as usual, which included their physicians having access to information about the lack of medical advanced directive and standard educational materials. Patients in the intervention group received an educational packet at their home 2-3 weeks before their physician visit. The packet included information about advanced medical directives rules in Minnesota, a fact sheet with answers to commonly asked questions, an advanced medical directive form, and an invitation to an open forum about advanced directives.

Follow-up surveys, conducted one month after the physician visit, show that 21.6% of the patients who received the educational material had completed and submitted an advanced directive compared to 4.1% of patients who received usual care. Authors conclude that a well-timed, multi-modal educational intervention can successfully increase the number of patients who complete advanced directives.


1. Tung EE, Vickers KS, Lackore K, et al. Clinical decision support technology to increase advance care planning in the primary care setting. Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2011;28:230-235.