Hawaii Resident Attitudes and Perceptions of Advance Care Planning

Over the past 15 years, Kōkua Mau has brought to the forefront meaningful, thoughtful and sensitive conversations on improving care and support for those with serious illness. Kōkua Mau is viewed as the thought leader that works to ensure every individual has the right to quality care throughout their lives, especially at the end of life.

As an organization, our goal is to create a community in which advance care planning conversations are the norm. We do not focus on the end of life, but rather the quality of life. Advance care planning can take place years before an illness or crisis occurs and is the first part of the continuum of planning for one’s legacy wishes.

We strive to accelerate change and create an optimal environment that elevates care for seriously ill people to a new level in Hawaii. We foster a movement to change social norms in Hawaii regarding conversations and decisions around serious illness and end-of-life care, and provide all individuals and communities with greater choice and control regarding their quality of life. One of the critical first steps of this initiative is market research to assess baseline attitudes in Hawai‘i toward advance care planning.

We contracted with Ward Research to conduct telephone surveys and focus groups of Hawaii residents to learn about their attitudes towards conversations with doctors, families and completion of advance care documents. This research was made possible with a grant from the Stupski Family Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

The results are very interesting, showing people in Hawaii are having conversations but there is a long way to go.

Research shows people are not having conversations because:

  • They think they are healthy (so it is too soon)
  • their family will know what they want (even though they never told them)
  • and they trust their healthcare teams to make decisions (even though they never told them their wishes)

We will be using these results to design our outreach programs. We hope this research will be useful for others as well.