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Title: Junior Medical Officers' knowledge of advance care directives and substitute decision making for people without decision making capacity: a cross sectional survey
Authors: Bryant, Jamie;Waller, Amy;Bowman, Alison;Pickles, Robert;Hullick, Carolyn;Price, Emma;White, Ben;Willmott, Lindy;Knight, Anne;Ryall, Mary-Ann ;Sanson-Fisher, Rob
Affliation: Central Coast Local Health District
Wyong Hospital
Issue Date: 2022
Source: 23(1):74
Journal title: BMC Medical Ethics
Abstract: For the benefits of advance care planning to be realised during a hospital admission, the treating team must have accurate knowledge of the law pertaining to implementation of advance care directives (ACDs) and substitute decision making. To determine in a sample of Junior Medical Officers (JMOs): (1) knowledge of the correct order to approach people as substitute decision makers if a patient does not have capacity to consent to treatment; (2) knowledge of the legal validity of ACDs when making healthcare decisions for persons without capacity to consent to treatment, including the characteristics associated with higher knowledge; and (3) barriers to enacting ACDs. A cross-sectional survey was conducted at five public hospitals in New South Wales, Australia. Interns, residents, registrars, and trainees on clinical rotation during the recruitment period were eligible to participate. Consenting participants completed an anonymous pen-and-paper survey. A total of 118 JMOs completed a survey (36% return rate). Fifty-five percent of participants were female and 56.8% were aged 20-29 years. Seventy-five percent of JMOs correctly identified a Guardian as the first person to approach if a patient did not have decision-making capacity, and 74% correctly identified a person's spouse or partner as the next person to approach. Only 16.5% identified all four persons in the correct order, and 13.5% did not identify any in the correct order. The mean number of correct responses to the questions assessing knowledge of the legal validity of ACDs was 2.6 (SD = 1.1) out of a possible score of 6. Only 28 participants (23.7%) correctly answered four or more knowledge statements correctly. None of the explored variables were significantly associated with higher knowledge of the legal validity of ACDs. Uncertainty about the currency of ACDs and uncertainty about the legal implications of relying on an ACD when a patient's family or substitute decision maker disagree with it were the main barriers to enacting ACDs. JMOs knowledge of the legal validity of ACDs for persons without decision making capacity and the substitute decision making hierarchy is limited. There is a clear need for targeted education and training to improve knowledge in this area for this cohort.
DOI: 10.1186/s12910-022-00813-9
Publicaton type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Health Service Research

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