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J Crit Care. 2004 Mar;19(1):1-9.

Influencing advance directive completion rates in non-terminally ill patients: a systematic review.

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Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



To conduct a systematic review of educational advance care planning interventions directed at patients without terminal illness to determine their influence on the completion rate of advance directives (AD).


We searched MEDLINE; Cochrane Library, and reference lists of all pertinent retrieved articles for randomized trials (RCTs), restricted to English language and adults > or =18 years. Two investigators independently and in duplicate determined trial eligibility. We included published RCTs evaluating an educational intervention comprised of at least one of; written, audio, or video materials, or direct counseling, and if an outcome included AD completion rate.


Nine RCTs (N=3,206) were included. Overall, methodologic quality and reporting transparency were poor. The median composite quality score was 5 (range, 0-10). The odds ratios for AD completion rates ranged from 0.41 to 106.0 across the trials (test of heterogeneity P <.001). The summary odds ratio for these educational interventions was 3.71 (95% C.I. 1.46, 9.40). Trials with greater methodologic rigor and reporting transparency produced a more conservative estimate of effect, 2.42 [0.96, 6.10] versus 28.69 [5.08, 162.06] for less rigorous and poorly reported trials (P =.013).


Advance directive completion rates documenting patient preferences for end-of-life care may be increased by simple patient-directed educational interventions.

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