Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

IIR 15-312 – HSR Study

IIR 15-312
Promoting Advance Care Planning as a Healthy Behavior
Terri R. Fried, MD
VA Connecticut Healthcare System West Haven Campus, West Haven, CT
West Haven, CT
Funding Period: May 2017 - April 2022
Advance care planning (ACP), the process by which individuals can prepare for future treatment decisions, remains underutilized. ACP addresses many of the issues that patients and caregivers endorse as important in end-of-life care; however, there are many emotional, cognitive, and practical barriers to engagement. While a patient-centered interviewing approach has been demonstrated to enhance engagement, such intensive interventions may be best suited for patients with serious chronic illness. The Institute of Medicine has endorsed a lifespan approach to ACP, with earlier engagement among patients in good health. This project takes a public health approach to promote ACP engagement among a broad cross-section of Veterans.

The objective of this project is to examine the effects of two theory-based behavioral interventions (computer-tailored feedback [CTI] based on the Trans-Theoretical Model and motivational interviewing [MI]) alone and in combination on completion of four key ACP behaviors: selecting a health care proxy, communicating with the proxy about goals of care, documentation of proxy selection and goals, and entry of documents into the electronic medical record).

Single-blind randomized controlled trial with four arms: usual care, CTI, MI, and CTI+MI, otherwise known as MET (motivational enhancement therapy). Participants will be Veterans age 55 years and older receiving primary care at VA Connecticut Healthcare System. All participants will receive a baseline assessment, examining their readiness to engage in each of the ACP behaviors, attitudes toward pros and cons of engagement, values and beliefs regarding ACP, and processes for behavior change. Based on this assessment, participants in the CTI group will receive a detailed personalized feedback report and a stage-matched brochure providing additional information about ACP. Participants in the MI group will receive a brief session with a trained counselor to strengthen commitment to engage in ACP and enhance self-efficacy. These interventions will be repeated at two and four months. The primary outcome, measured at six months, is completion of all 4 ACP behaviors.

A total of 248 Veterans have been contacted by telephone. Of these, 22 were unable to be reached. Of the remaining 226, 99 refused telephone screening, and 48 were found to be ineligible, most often (42/48) because they had completed all 4 ACP behaviors. Thus, to date, 79 Veterans were consented for study participation, with 1 subsequently declining to complete the baseline assessment. Of the 78 Veterans enrolled and randomized, there are 21 in the control arm, 18 in the CTI arm, 19 in the MI arm, and 20 in the MET arm. With the use of block randomization, the number of ACP behaviors completed are distributed equally across the study arms.

If demonstrated to be efficacious, the interventions being tested in this proposal will have been shown to increase engagement in ACP, which has been identified as a key component of high-quality end-of-life care. This project takes the important step of introducing ACP into the primary care of Veterans, conceptualizing ACP as a component of the well visit and promoting engagement with interventions that hold the potential for widespread dissemination at modest cost.

As a first step in demonstrating impact, we have a manuscript in press detailing the feasibility of motivational interviewing (MI) for ACP. We have a full manual and rating system available upon request for interested clinicians in order to promote dissemination of the MI protocol.

External Links for this Project

NIH Reporter

Grant Number: I01HX002062-01A2

Dimensions for VA

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

Learn more about Dimensions for VA.

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
    Search Dimensions for this project


Journal Articles

  1. Fried TR, Street RL, Cohen AB. Chronic Disease Decision Making and "What Matters Most". Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2020 Mar 1; 68(3):474-477. [view]
  2. Fried TR, Cohen AB, Harris JE, Moreines L. Cognitively Impaired Older Persons' and Caregivers' Perspectives on Dementia-Specific Advance Care Planning. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021 Apr 1; 69(4):932-937. [view]
  3. Wiener RS, Kim SYI, Fried TR, Cohen J, Foglia MB, Lehmann LS, Linsky AM. Early Changes in Rates of Documented Goals-of-Care Conversations in the Veterans Health Administration During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 May 1; 36(5):1466-1469. [view]
  4. Fried TR, Paiva AL, Redding CA, Iannone L, O'Leary JR, Zenoni M, Risi MM, Mejnartowicz S, Rossi JS. Effect of the STAMP (Sharing and Talking About My Preferences) Intervention on Completing Multiple Advance Care Planning Activities in Ambulatory Care : A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Annals of internal medicine. 2021 Nov 1; 174(11):1519-1527. [view]
  5. Tu SS, O'Leary JR, Fried TR. Engagement in Non-Medical End-of-Life Planning by Older Adults. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2021 Oct 1; 62(4):805-812. [view]
  6. Cohen AB, Han L, O JR, Fried TR. Guardianship and End-of-Life Care for Veterans with Dementia in Nursing Homes. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021 Feb 1; 69(2):342-348. [view]
  7. Fried TR, Redding CA, Martino S, Paiva A, Iannone L, Zenoni M, Blakley LA, Rossi JS, O'Leary J. Increasing engagement in advance care planning using a behaviour change model: study protocol for the STAMP randomised controlled trials. BMJ open. 2018 Aug 10; 8(8):e025340. [view]
  8. Cohen AB, Costello DM, O'Leary JR, Fried TR. Older Adults without Desired Surrogates in a Nationally Representative Sample. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021 Jan 1; 69(1):114-121. [view]
  9. Thomas JM, Cooney LM, Fried TR. Prognosis as Health Trajectory: Educating Patients and Informing the Plan of Care. Journal of general internal medicine. 2021 Jul 1; 36(7):2125-2126. [view]
  10. van Dyck LI, Fried TR. Prognostic information, goals of care, and code status decision-making among older patients. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2021 Jul 1; 69(7):2025-2028. [view]
  11. van Dyck LI, Paiva A, Redding CA, Fried TR. Understanding the Role of Knowledge in Advance Care Planning Engagement. Journal of pain and symptom management. 2021 Oct 1; 62(4):778-784. [view]
Journal Other

  1. Fried TR, Leung SL, Blakley LA, Martino S. Development and Pilot Testing of a Motivational Interview for Engagement in Advance Care Planning. [Letter to the Editor]. Journal of palliative medicine. 2018 Jul 1; 21(7):897-898. [view]
  2. Truog RD, Fried TR. Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment and Limiting Overtreatment at the End of Life. [Editorial]. JAMA. 2020 Mar 10; 323(10):934-935. [view]

DRA: Aging, Older Veterans' Health and Care
DRE: TRL - Applied/Translational
Keywords: End-of-Life, Patient Preferences
MeSH Terms: none

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.