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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2016 Sep;64(9):1884-9. doi: 10.1111/jgs.14261. Epub 2016 Sep 1.

Knowledge About and Perceptions of Advance Care Planning and Communication of Chinese-American Older Adults.

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Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California.
Department of Veterans Affairs, Sepulveda Ambulatory Care Center, Los Angeles, California.
Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California.


Although advance care planning (ACP) is associated with better care at the end of life, better quality of death, and less psychological distress in survivors, ethnic disparities in ACP completion rates have been documented and may be attributable to lack of knowledge about ACP or differences in cultural values and preferences. Despite rapid increases in the size of the Asian-American population, little is known about ACP preferences of Chinese Americans. The purpose of this study is to explore the knowledge, attitudes, and preferences of older Chinese Americans toward ACP. Focus groups with Chinese older adults (n = 34) were conducted in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English, and transcripts were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Identified themes included knowledge and experience with ACP and end-of-life care options, health as a factor in timing of ACP and communication, and communication of end-of-life care preferences. Knowledge of and experience with ACP and end-of-life decision-making varied according to focus group, although few participants had an advance directive. Findings suggest that Chinese older adults prefer to use indirect communication strategies, such as commenting on the circumstances of others rather than directly stating their wishes, and informal contexts, such as during a family dinner rather than formal meeting, to convey their care preferences to loved ones and may employ similar tactics when communicating with clinicians. This is particularly important given the recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to provide reimbursement to physicians for engaging in advance care planning conversations.


Asian American; Chinese American; advance care planning; advance directive; communication

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