Advance Directive Communication Practices: Social Workers' Contributions to the Interdisciplinary Health Care Team

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Advance directives, hospitalized patients, interdisciplinary team


This article presents a comparative study about social workers' interdisciplinary advance directive communication practices with patients at several hospitals located in upstate New York. The sample consisted of physicians (n = 32), nurses (n = 74), and social workers (n = 29). The research surveyed advance directive communication practices by discipline utilizing a self-administered questionnaire. Advance directive communication was operationalized as a cumulative process incorporating the following phases that were measured as scales: initiation of the topic, disclosure of information, identification of a surrogate decision-maker, discussion of treatment options, elicitation of patient values, interaction with family members, and collaboration with other health care professionals. Results suggest that social workers offer distinct skills in their advance directive communication practices and discuss advance directives more frequently than either physicians or nurses.

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Social Work in Health Care, v. 40, issue 3, p. 39-55

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