Exploring the utility of the vignette technique in promoting advance care planning discussions with cancer patients and caregivers

Natasha Michael, Clare O'Callaghan, Josephine M. Clayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective We aimed to specifically examine patients’ and caregivers’ perspectives about the use of the vignette technique (VT) integrating clinical scenarios, as a potential tool for facilitating advance care planning (ACP) discussions. Methods Secondary analysis of data from three studies that incorporated the VT, focusing on statements specific to use of the VT and using a qualitative descriptive design informed by grounded theory. Results Data from 85 participants were analyzed. Participants varied in their personal identification with scenarios, with caregivers being more accurate. Scenarios prompted consideration and participation in ACP discussions, sometimes steering conversations in directions that participants were ready to consider. However, scenarios also risked evoking distress in participants who may have chosen to avoid discussions. Conclusions For some patients, scenarios of possible clinical outcomes may provide a neutral platform to promote ACP conversations in a non-threatening manner and allow for exploration of ACP domains to greater depth. Practice implications Vignettes may be used in staff training through role-play or case discussions; as part of face-to-face interventions to improve knowledge and information processing and to facilitate the initiation of sensitive conversations. Its use in audio-visual formats may further enhance end-of-life dialogue and warrants further consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1406-1412
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Advanced care planning
  • Cancer
  • Qualitative research
  • Secondary analysis

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