Knowledge, Opinion, and Attitude About the Italian Law on Advance Directives: A Population-Based Survey

Ludovica De Panfilis, Paolo Giorgi Rossi, Elisa Mazzini, Luca Pistolesi, Luca Ghirotto, Antonio Noto, Sandra Cuocolo, Massimo Costantini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Advance directives are legal documents which individuals draw up to declare their treatment preferences and to appoint well-informed proxies to safeguard patient autonomy in critical situations when that individual is temporarily or no longer able to communicate these preferences. On December 22, 2017, the Italian Parliament approved the first law on end of life (“Provisions for informed consent and advance directives” L.219/2017), after a heated public and political debate lasting almost 20 years. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the awareness, knowledge, opinions, and attitudes regarding Italian Law 219/2017 and advance directives among the Italian population 15 months after its entry into force. Methods: A nationwide population-based survey was conducted by a certified public opinion survey company. A sample size of 2000 interviews was planned. A structured questionnaire was developed to investigate awareness, opinions, and attitudes concerning the law by a multiprofessional research team. The agreed-on version was pretested on a sample of 70 selected participants. Results: The sample included 2000 valid interviews; 70.1% of respondents declared they had heard about the law on informed consent and advance directives. Respondents were asked to express their overall opinion on the law's utility and importance: 88% declared that the law was quite or very important and 76% had a positive attitude toward making/registering advance directives. Conclusion: The principles of Italian Law 219/2017 are aligned with the ethical sentiment of the vast majority of the Italian population. It is crucial to stimulate discussion to increase knowledge and awareness to increase the number of advance directives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)906-914.e4
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Advance directives
  • ethics
  • informed consent
  • survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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