Advance Decisions

Advance Decisions: Informing Implementation Strategies through Interdisciplinary and Cross-national Dialogue.   (Symposia series funded by the Economic and Social Research Council)


Respect for patient autonomy and the right of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions where possible lies at the core of the recent Mental Capacity Act 2005.  The Act gives statutory authority to “Advance Decisions” (ADs) – enabling people to communicate their healthcare decisions in advance of losing the capacity to do so.

This is increasingly important when new medical technologies mean it is now possible keep people alive for years or for decades in permanent vegetative or minimally conscious states (i.e. with no – or very minimal and inconsistent – awareness of themselves or their environment) – and surveys suggest that most people say that they would prefer not to be given life-prolonging treatments in such circumstances.

This seminar series brings together experts in medicine (GPs, intensivists, palliative care), law (including practicing barristers and solicitors), bioethics and the social sciences, and representatives from charities working with ADs (e.g. Compassion in Dying) to explore attitudes to and uptake of ADs five years after statutory implementation. We are addressing the extent to which they are effective in end-of-life decision making (e.g. how do health professionals and families understand them?) and our work will inform future implementation strategies. See more about the project, and the powerpoints from seminars and our impact here.

Grant holders:

Prof Celia Kitzinger (Department of Sociology, University of York) - Principal Investigator

Dr Anne-Marie Slowther (Warwick Medical School. University of Warwick)

Prof  Luke Clements (Cardiff Law School, University of Cardiff)