Advance care planning for older people with cancer and its implications in Asia: Highlighting the mental capacity and relational autonomy

Cheng Pei Lin, Shao Yi Cheng, Ping Jen Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


With dramatically increasing proportions of older people, global ageing has remarkably influenced healthcare services and policy making worldwide. Older people represent the majority of patients with cancer, leading to the increasing demand of healthcare due to more comorbidities and inherent frailty. The preference of older people with cancer are often ignored, and they are considered incapable of making choices for themselves, particularly medical decisions. This might impede the provision of their preferred care and lead to poor healthcare outcomes. Advance care planning (ACP) is considered an effective intervention to assist older people to think ahead and make a choice in accordance with their wishes when they possess capacity to do so. The implementation of ACP can potentially lead to positive impact for patients and families. However, the assessment of mental capacity among older adults with cancer might be a crucial concern when implementing ACP, as loss of mental capacity occurs frequently during disease deterioration and functional decline. This article aims to answer the following questions by exploring the existing evidence. How does ACP develop for older people with cancer? How can we measure mental capacity and what kind of principles for assessment we should apply? What are the facilitators and barriers when implementing an ACP in this population? Furthermore, a discussion about cultural adaptation and relevant legislation in Asia is elucidated for better understanding about its cultural appropriateness and the implications. Finally, recommendations in relation to early intervention with routine monitoring and examination of capacity assessment in clinical practice when delivering ACP, reconciling patient autonomy and family values by applying the concept of relational autonomy, and a corresponding legislation and public education should be in place in Asia. More research on ACP and capacity assessment in different cultural contexts and policy frameworks is highlighted as crucial factors for successful implementation of ACP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43
JournalGeriatrics (Switzerland)
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • Advance care planning
  • Ageing
  • Cancer
  • Mental capacity
  • Relational autonomy


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