Applying the transtheoretical model to health care proxy completion. Academic Article uri icon


  • For many, an important health decision is whether or not to document end-of-life wishes using an advance directive (e.g., health care proxy). To date, interventions targeting this health behavior have had little effect on increasing advance directive completion rates. Health behavior models, such as the transtheoretical model (TTM) could be useful for understanding the health decision-making processes used along a continuum, from no intention to complete an advance directive to completing one and discussing it with an appointed advocate.To explore the applicability of the TTM for a previously understudied health behavior-completing a health care proxy (HCP).Four established TTM measures for completing a HCP (stages of change, processes of change, decisional balance, and self-efficacy) were administered to 566 adults with coverage from 1 of 2 health insurance companies. Separate analyses of variance were used to test the relationships between the independent variable (stages of change) and dependent variables (processes of change, decisional balance, self-efficacy scores).Consistent with other TTM research both the experiential and the behavioral processes of change revealed the lowest scores in the precontemplation stage peaking in the preparation stage. The pattern of pros and cons was replicated from previous TTM studies, with the 2 scores crossing over just prior to the preparation stage. Self-efficacy scores incrementally increased across the stages of change with the largest effect evident from the precontemplation to preparation stage.The models developed from this study can be used to guide the development of stage-based interventions for promoting health care proxy completion.