Background In Australia’s diverse ageing population there is an increasingly urgent need for culturally sensitive end-of-life care. Currently, end-of-life planning is promoted and standardised in the form of advance care directives (ACDs), which have a lower uptake in Asian migrant groups.
Aim In presenting research funded by an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (Grant no: 150101506), this paper aims to identify and theorise points of uptake and resistance to advance care planning in Chinese and Indian communities in Adelaide, South Australia.
Methods This research is qualitative in design and draws on ethnographic research methods (of participant observation, in-depth interviews and engagement in community life) in order to understand and evaluate how families and health care professionals respond to ACDs.
Results Preliminary findings reveal that understandings of death, dying, personal autonomy and care differ across cultural and social contexts. The research suggests that neglect of these differences might be a major contributing factor to the low uptake of ACDs in these groups.
Discussion Applying ethnographic research methods may enable researchers to identify the broader contextual features of death and dying that impact on the uptake of ACDs. This first study to analyse how South Australia’s Advance Care Directives Act 2013 is being received, interpreted and acted on by individuals, families and health care professionals in Australia’s ageing Asian migrant groups may be a platform for future studies on end-of-life care in other culturally diverse jurisdictions.
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