Social workers’ involvement in advance care planning

Advance care planning is a process of discussion that enables competent adults to express their wishes about end-of-life care through periods of decisional incapacity | BMC Palliative Care

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Although a number of studies have documented social workers’ attitudes toward, knowledge about, and involvement in advance care planning, the information is fragmented. The purpose of this review was to provide a narrative synthesis of evidence on social workers’ perspectives and experiences regarding implementation of advance care planning.

Thirty-one articles met the eligibility criteria. Six research themes were identified: social workers’ attitudes toward advance care planning; social workers’ knowledge, education and training regarding advance care planning; social workers’ involvement in advance care planning; social workers’ perceptions of their roles; ethical issues relevant to advance care planning; and the effect of social work intervention on advance care planning engagement. The findings suggest that there is a consensus among social workers that advance care planning is their duty and responsibility and that social workers play an important role in promoting and implementing advance care planning through an array of activities.

This study provides useful knowledge for implementing advance care planning through illustrating social workers’ perspectives and experiences. Further studies are warranted to understand the complexity inherent in social workers’ involvement in advance care planning for different life-limiting illnesses or within different socio-cultural contexts.

Full reference: Chong-Wen, W. et al. (2017) Social workers’ involvement in advance care planning: a systematic narrative review. BMC Palliative Care. Published online: 10th July 2017

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