New research found that playing a game designed to spur conversation encouraged advance care planning. The study was published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

In the study, patients with chronic illness and their caregivers played a game called Hello, in which they took turns answering questions about health issues. The scientists found that three months after playing the game, 75% of participants had gone on to complete some form of advance care planning.

Lauren J. Van Scoy, the assistant professor of medicine and humanities, said,"Our findings suggest that not only is the game a positive experience, but it also helps motivate players to engage in advance care planning behaviors. Whether it was completing an advance directive or looking up hospice information, they were engaged in some of the necessary psychological work needed to take the next step and be prepared for decision making."

Van Scoy said advance care planning was as simple as creating an advance directive (a document that outlines a person's wishes about medical treatment in case that person can't communicate them to a doctor)

Earlier studies had shown the people enjoyed playing the game that encouraged meaningful conversations. However, Van Scoy wanted to explore whether the game encourages players to participate in advance care planning behaviors.

The researchers enrolled chronic illness patients (n=49) and caregivers (n=44) and divided them into cohorts. All the participants were playing the game. After three months, each participant was asked about their opinions on the game and whether they engaged in advance care planning (includes researching hospice care, obtaining life insurance or creating an advance directive).

The study reported that 44% of participants had done advance directives and 75% had done some form of advance care planning.

The outcomes were meaningful since on average, approximately 33% of adults engaged in advance care planning, while earlier study had found the planning increased individuals' satisfaction with their end-of-life care and lowered end-of-life health care costs.

The game motivated people to engage in advance care planning. The researchers wanted to test the game in a randomized control trial to recognize whether the results could be replicated, Van Scoy said.

The research indicated that the game could motivate people of all ages to start thinking about advance care planning said Benjamin Levi, a professor at Penn State Hershey.

Levi said, “Ideally, advance care planning is a process that you revisit throughout your life, continually evaluating what's important to you and what your priorities are.” During adolescence, people should consider about advance care planning. The game might be an enjoyable approach to begin the process, he added.