CONTEXT: To respect a patient's wish for end-of-life care, "the Act on Decisions on Life-Sustaining Treatment for Patients at the End-of-Life" was enacted in South Korea in 2016. Current understanding of people who would be involved in advance care planning (ACP) is crucial to disseminate it systematically.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate awareness and attitudes toward ACP in South Korea.
METHODS: A multicenter, nationwide cross-sectional study was conducted a survey regarding ACP among four groups that would have different positions and experiences: 1,001 cancer patients, 1,006 family caregivers, 928 physicians, and 1,241 members of the general public.
RESULTS: A total of 15% of the general population, 33% of the patients and caregivers, and 61% of the physicians had knowledge of advance directives. More than 64% of the general population, above 72% of the patients and caregivers, and 97% of the physicians were willing to do so when the disease status was aggravated or terminal. The possibility for changing the plan, uncertainty as to whether directives would actually be followed, and psychological discomfort were common reasons for not wanting to engage in ACP. Routine recommendations for a specific medical condition, heightened accessibility, and health insurance support were common factors that could help facilitate ACP.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that strategies for promoting ACP should reflect different perspectives among the general public, patients, family caregivers, and physicians. Public advocacy, resources for approaching and integrating ACP into routine healthcare, as well as systematic support provisions, are needed.