The Impact of Community-Led Advance Care Planning Workshops

PIctured is the cover of the BC Advance Care Plan

Advance Care Planning is a process which enables individuals to reflect on their values and wishes with respect to health and personal care and to communicate that information to loved ones, health care providers and others to ensure that future care is consistent with their values and preferences. Although the benefits of Advance Care Planning are widely recognized, health care providers often don’t discuss it with patients as often or as fully as they would like, and engagement in Advance Care Planning remains low.

IALH Research Fellow Kelli Stadjuhar (Nursing), IALH Associate Member Richard Sawatzky (Trinity Western University) and colleagues from the BC Centre for Palliative Care and UBC recently published findings from a study which examined the acceptability of community-led peer-facilitated Advance Care Planning workshops targeted to the general public. The researchers also investigated the extent to which participation in the workshops was associated with increased engagement in Advance Care Planning behaviours.

Peer-facilitators from nine community organizations delivered 28 free workshops which focused on the What, Why, Who, When and How of Advance Care Planning. Engagement in Advance Care Planning was assessed at the end of the workshops and again four to six weeks later. A total of 302 individuals participated in the workshops; 217 returned post-workshop questionnaires immediately after the workshops, and 69 returned follow-up questionnaires four to six weeks later.

Over 90% of participants agreed or strongly agreed that the workshops were well organized and 95% indicated they would recommend the workshops to others. Further, over 90% of participants indicated that the workshops had increased their knowledge regarding: a) when they should start thinking and communicating about their future health care; b) who they could speak to regarding their future health care; c) their options for documenting their wishes or instructions regarding their future health care; d) who they could ask to make health care decisions for them if they were unable to do so themselves; e) the overall Advance Care Planning process; and f) what they should do with their written advance care plan. Immediately following the workshop, participants indicated they were most confident documenting their values and substitute decision maker. They were least confident speaking with a health care professional regarding their values and completing an advance care directive. All Advance Care Planning behaviours showed a significant increase in participant completion at follow-up.

The researchers concluded that “this study shows that [a] community-led, peer-facilitated education approach is associated with short-term enhancement in advance care planning knowledge, motivation, and confidence to engage in advance care planning, and increased completion rates of advance care planning behaviours in public participants.” They also noted that “Further work is needed to determine how workshops…might be adapted to maximize their acceptability and impact among different population groups, including traditionally underserved populations…”

To read the full article, go to

To view the BC Advance Care Plan go to supports/seniors/health-safety/advance-care-planning.