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Use of advance directives by South Australians: results from the Health Omnibus Survey Spring 2012

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Advance directives (ADs) have been championed as a remedy for providing evidence of the medical, financial, health care and lifestyle options a person would choose at a time when they may lack capacity for decision making.1 A review of the literature in this area found that these instruments can be useful, but are not widely used due to a variety of factors which inhibit their effectiveness.1,2 In Australia, barriers to effective completion of ADs include poor understanding and application of the different AD forms.2 There is a lack of actual published data on completion rates of specific types of ADs used in Australia.2 As primary care involves assessing individuals at increased risk of chronic diseases and hospital care, low rates of completion of ADs in particular age or other demographic groups may suggest the potential for AD completion initiatives led by general practitioners. This would, in turn, lead to better outcomes from a primary health care, patient management and family carer perspective.

The aim of this study was to determine the proportion of South Australians who have completed the medical, financial, health care or lifestyle ADs in South Australia and/or a will (an instrument often believed to be an AD2). Demographic…