Background: although patient-centred care has become increasingly important across all medical specialties, when it comes to end of life care, research has shown that treatments ordered are not often concordant with people’s expressed preferences. Patient and family engagement in Advance Care Planning (ACP) in the primary care setting could improve the concordance between patients’ wishes and the healthcare received when patients cannot speak for themselves. The aim of this study was to better understand the barriers faced by older patients regarding talking to their family members and family physicians about ACP.
Methods: In this multi-site cross-sectional study, three free text questions regarding reasons patients found it difficult to discuss ACP with their families or their family physicians were part of a self-administered questionnaire about patients’ knowledge of and engagement in ACP. The questionnaire, which included closed ended questions followed by three probing open ended questions, was distributed in 20 family practices across 3 provinces in Canada. The free text responses were analyzed using thematic analysis and form the basis of this paper.
Results: One hundred two participants provided an analyzable response to the survey when asked why they haven’t talked to someone about ACP. Two hundred fifty-four answered the question about talking to their physician and 340 answered the question about talking to family members. Eight distinct themes emerged from the free text response analysis: 1. They were too young for ACP; 2. The topic is too emotional; 3. The Medical Doctor (MD) should be responsible for bringing up ACP 4. A fear of negatively impacting the patient-physician relationship; 5. Not enough time in appointments; 6. Concern about family dynamics; 7. It’s not a priority; and 8. A lack of knowledge about ACP.
Conclusions: Patients in our sample described many barriers to ACP discussions, including concerns about the effect these discussions may have on relationships with both family members and family physicians, and issues relating to patients’ knowledge and interpretation of the importance, responsibility for, or relevance of ACP itself. Family physicians may be uniquely placed to leverage the longitudinal, person- centred relationship they have with patients to mitigate some of these barriers.
BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown substantial deficiencies in the quality or quantity (or both) of communication and decision-making during serious illness. We evaluated the efficacy of a novel decision support intervention, the Plan Well Guide, in increasing completion of a standard medical order form for advance medical care planning and improving decisional outcomes in nonacademic primary care settings.
METHODS: We conducted a randomized trial in 3 primary care practices in Lethbridge, Alberta in 2017-2018. We recruited "patients at high risk" referred by the primary care doctor who required establishment or review of their Goals of Care Designation (GCD). Enrolled patients were randomly allocated to receive the Plan Well Guide, delivered by a trained facilitator, or usual care. Eight to 12 weeks after the intervention, a research assistant blinded to intervention assignment contacted the patients in both groups by telephone to do a final outcome assessment. The primary outcome was completion of GCD forms; secondary outcomes included decisional conflict scores and ratings of satisfaction.
RESULTS: A total of 123 patients (59 women [48.0%]; mean age 73.9 yr) were enrolled, 66 in the intervention arm and 57 in the usualcare arm; 119 patients completed the trial. After the intervention, GCD completion rates in the intervention and usual-care groups were 95.3% and 90.9%, respectively (risk difference [RD] 4%, 95% confidence interval [CI] -14% to 22%), and the rate of concordance between medical orders and expressed preferences on follow-up was 78% and 66%, respectively (RD 12%, 95% CI -7% to 30%). Significantly fewer patients in the intervention group than in the usual-care group had written medical orders for intensive care unit care and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (22 [34%] v. 33 [60%], RD -26%, 95% CI -42% to -8%). Patients in the intervention group had lower decisional conflict scores than those in the usual-care group (mean 30.9 v. 43.1, adjusted mean difference -12.0, 95% CI -23.2 to -0.8). Physicians considered patients in the intervention group to have lower decisional conflict than those in the usual-care group, although not significantly so (mean score 10.4 v. 14.9, adjusted mean difference -4.7, 95% CI -9.9 to 0.4) and spent less time with the former (mean 9.7 v. 13.2 min, adjusted mean difference -3.5, 95% CI -5.5 to -1.5 min).
INTERPRETATION: The decision-support intervention did not increase GCD completion rates but did seem to improve some aspects of decisional quality while reducing the physician's time to accomplish GCD decisions.
PURPOSE: Online programs may help to engage patients in advance care planning in outpatient settings. We sought to implement an online advance care planning program, PREPARE (Prepare for Your Care; http://www.prepareforyourcare.org), at home and evaluate the changes in advance care planning engagement among patients attending outpatient clinics.
METHODS: We undertook a prospective before-and-after study in 15 primary care clinics and 2 outpatient cancer centers in Canada. Patients were aged 50 years or older (primary care) or 18 years or older (cancer care) and free of cognitive impairment. They used the PREPARE website over 6 weeks, with reminders sent at 2 or 4 weeks. We used the 55-item Advance Care Planning Engagement Survey, which measures behavior change processes (knowledge, contemplation, self-efficacy, readiness) on 5-point scales and actions relating to substitute decision makers, quality of life, flexibility for the decision maker, and asking doctors questions on an overall scale from 0 to 21; higher scores indicate greater engagement.
RESULTS: In total, 315 patients were screened and 172 enrolled, of whom 75% completed the study (mean age = 65.6 years, 51% female, 35% had cancer). The mean behavior change process score was 2.9 (SD 0.8) at baseline and 3.5 (SD 0.8) at follow-up (mean change = 0.6; 95% CI, 0.49-0.73); the mean action measure score was 4.0 (SD 4.9) at baseline and 5.2 (SD 5.4) at follow-up (mean change = 1.2; 95% CI, 0.54-1.77). The effect size was moderate (0.75) for the former and small (0.23) for the latter. Findings were similar in both primary care and cancer care populations.
CONCLUSIONS: Implementation of the online PREPARE program in primary care and cancer care clinics increased advance care planning engagement among patients.
CONTEXT: The validated 82-item Advance Care Planning (ACP) Engagement Survey measures a broad range of ACP behaviors but is long.
OBJECTIVES: Determine whether shorter Survey versions (55-, 34-, 15-, 9-, 4-items) can detect similar change in response to two well-validated ACP interventions and provide practical effect size information.
METHODS: We assessed ACP engagement for 986 English- and Spanish-speaking adults in a randomized trial of PREPARE versus an advance directive (AD-only) study arms. The Survey was administered at baseline, 1 week, and 3, 6, 12 months. We calculated mean change scores from baseline to follow-up time points by study arm, intraclass correlation coefficients of change scores between the 82-item Survey with shorter versions, and within- and between-group effect sizes of the mean change scores.
RESULTS: Shorter Survey versions were able to detect within- and between-group changes at all time points. Within-group intraclass correlations of the 82-item to shorter versions were high (0.78 to 0.97) and the amount of between-group differences were comparable using all Survey versions. Twelve-month within-group effect sizes ranged narrowly from 0.76 to 1.05 for different Survey versions in the PREPARE arm and from 0.44 to 0.64 for the AD-only. Between-group effect sizes ranged narrowly from 0.24 to 0.30 for different Survey versions. Results were similar when stratified by English- and Spanish-speakers.
CONCLUSION: Shorter versions of the ACP Engagement Survey were able to detect within- and between-group changes comparable to the 82-item version and can be useful for efficiently and effectively measuring ACP engagement in research and clinical settings.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this randomised trial is to evaluate the efficacy of a decision support intervention for serious illness decisions (the Plan Well Guide decision aid; www.PlanWellguide.com) in increasing the engagement of substitute decision-makers (SDMs) in the patient's advance care planning process (ie, 'ACP engagement'), specifically the SDM's confidence and readiness for the role in the future.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This study is a parallel group randomised controlled trial. We aim to enrol 90 participant dyads: patients aged 65 years and older attending outpatient healthcare settings and with indicators they would be at high risk of needing future medical decisions and their SDM. The intervention is the Plan Well Guide decision aid, administered to the patient by a facilitator, with the SDM present. The primary endpoint is change after 3 months in the SDM's ACP engagement using a validated measure of behavioural change (SDM's knowledge, contemplation, self-efficacy and readiness) to enact the role. The secondary endpoints are (1) ACP engagement of the patient measured by a validated survey; (2) change in SDM decisional conflict regarding involvement in future decision-making and (3) postintervention patient decisional conflict regarding preference for life-sustaining treatments. Primary and secondary continuous outcomes will be analysed using the linear regression. The mean difference and 95% CIs will be reported.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Approval was received August 2017 (2017-3714-GRA) from the Hamilton Integrated Research Ethics Board. We plan to dissesseminate trial results in peer-reviewed journals, at national and international conferences, and via our web-based knowledge translation platforms.
BACKGROUND: People who engage in advance care planning (ACP) are more likely to receive health care that is concordant with their goals at the end of life. Little discussion of ACP occurs in primary care.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe primary care clinicians' perspectives on having ACP conversations with their patients.
METHODS: We conducted a survey of family physicians and non-physician clinicians in primary care in 2014-2015. We compared family physicians and non-physician clinicians on willingness, confidence, participation and acceptability for other clinicians to engage in six aspects of ACP (initiating, exchanging information, decision coaching, finalizing plans, helping communicate plans with family members and other health professionals) on scales from 0 = not at all/extremely unacceptable to 6 = very/all the time/extremely acceptable.
RESULTS: The response rate was 72% (n = 117) among family physicians and 69% (n = 64) among non-physician clinicians. Mean ratings (standard deviation [SD]) of willingness were high (4.5 [1.4] to 5.0 [1.2] for physicians; 3.4 [1.8] to 4.6 [1.6] non-physician clinicians). There was little participation (mean ratings 2.4 [1.7] to 2.7 [1.6] for physicians, 1.0 [1.5] to 1.4 [1.7] for non-physician clinicians). Non-physician clinicians rated confidence statistically significantly lower than physicians for all ACP aspects. Acceptability for non-physician clinician involvement was high in both groups (mean acceptability ratings greater than 4).
CONCLUSION: Current engagement of primary care clinicians in ACP is low. Given the high willingness and acceptability for non-physician clinician involvement, increasing the capacity of non-physician clinicians could enable uptake of ACP in primary care.
CONTEXT: Although the literature on transitions from hospital to the community is extensive, little is known about this experience within the context of palliative care (PC).
OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review to investigate the impact of receiving palliative care in hospital on the transition from hospital to the community.
METHODS: We systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, ProQuest and CINAHL from 1995 until April 10, 2018, and extracted relevant references. Eligible articles were published in English, included adult patients receiving PC as inpatients and explored transitions from hospital to the community.
RESULTS: 1514 studies were identified and 8 met inclusion criteria. Studies were published recently (>2012; n=7, 88%). Specialist PC interventions were delivered by multi-disciplinary care teams as part of inpatient PC triggers, discharge planning programs, and transitional care programs. Common outcomes reported with significant findings consisted of length of stay (n=5), discharge support (n=5), and hospital readmissions (n=6) for those who received inpatient PC. Most studies were at high risk of bias.
CONCLUSION: Heterogeneity of study designs, outcomes, findings, and poor methodological quality render it challenging to draw conclusions regarding PC's impact on the transition from hospital to home. Further research should use standardized outcomes with randomized controlled trial and/or propensity matched cohort designs.
Designing and implementing population-based systems of care that address the social determinants of health, take action on multiple levels, and are guided by evidence-based principles is a pressing priority, and an international challenge. Aging persons are a priority demographic whose health needs span physical, psychosocial and existential care domains, increase in the last year of life, are often poorly coordinated and therefore remain unmet. Compassionate communities (CCs) are an example of a public health approach that fully addresses the holistic healthcare needs of those who are aging and nearing end of life. The sharing of resources, tools, and innovations among implementers of CCs is occurring globally. Although this can increase impact, it also generates complexity that can complicate robust evaluation. When initiating population health level projects, it is important to clearly define and organize concepts and processes that are proposed to influence the health outcomes. The Health Impact Change Model (HICM) was developed to unpack the complexities associated with the implementation and evaluation of a Canadian CC intervention. The HICM offers utility for citizens, leaders and decision-makers who are engaged in the implementation of population health level strategies or other social approaches to care, such as compassionate cities and age or dementia-friendly communities. The HICM's concepts can be adapted to address a community's healthcare context, needs, and goals for change. We share examples of how the model's major concepts have been applied in the development, evaluation and spread of a complex CC approach.
OBJECTIVES: To develop and validate a values clarification tool, the Short Graphic Values History Tool (GVHT), designed to support person-centred decision making during serious illness.
METHODS: The development phase included input from experts and laypersons and assessed acceptability with patients/family members. In the validation phase, we recruited additional participants into a before-after study. Our primary validation hypothesis was that the tool would reduce scores on the Decisional Conflict Scale (DCS) at 1-2 weeks of follow-up. Our secondary validation hypotheses were that the tool would improve values clarity (reduce scores) more than other DCS subscales and increase engagement in advance care planning (ACP) processes related to identification and discussion of one's values.
RESULTS: In the development phase, the tool received positive overall ratings from 22 patients/family members in hospital (mean score 4.3; 1=very poor; 5=very good) and family practice (mean score 4.5) settings. In the validation phase, we enrolled 157 patients (mean age 71.8 years) from family practice, cancer clinic and hospital settings. After tool completion, decisional conflict decreased (-6.7 points, 95% CI -11.1 to -2.3, p=0.003; 0–100 scale; N=100), with the most improvement seen in the values clarity subscale (-10.0 points, 95% CI -17.3 to -2.7, p=0.008; N=100), and the ACP-Values process score increased (+0.4 points, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.6, p=0.001; 1–5 scale; N=61).
CONCLUSIONS: The Short GVHT is acceptable to end users and has some measure of validity. Further study to evaluate its impact on decision making during serious illness is warranted.
OBJECTIVE: To identify barriers to and enablers of advance care planning (ACP) perceived by physicians and other health professionals in primary care.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional, self-administered survey.
SETTING: Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.
PARTICIPANTS: Family physicians (n = 117) and other health professionals (n = 64) in primary care.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Perceived barriers relating to the clinician, characteristics of patients, and system factors, rated on a 7-point scale from 0 (not at all) to 6 (an extreme amount), and enablers reported using an open-ended question.
RESULTS: Between November 2014 and June 2015, questionnaires were returned by 72.2% (117 of 162) of family physicians and 68.8% (64 of 93) of the other health professionals. Physicians rated insufficient time, inability to electronically transfer the advance care plan across care settings, decreased interaction with patients near the end of life owing to transfer of care, and patients' difficulty understanding limitations and complications of treatment options as the highest barriers. Other health professionals additionally identified their own lack of knowledge and difficulty accessing the physician as barriers. Themes identified as enablers included greater public engagement, clinician attitudes, creating capacity for clinicians, integrating ACP into practice, and system and policy supports.
CONCLUSION: In primary care, there are barriers to engaging patients in ACP at the patient, provider, and system levels that could potentially be addressed through the informed development of multifaceted interventions.
BACKGROUND: Decisions about care options and the use of life-sustaining treatments should be informed by a person's values and treatment preferences. The objective of this study was to examine the consistency of ratings of the importance of the values statements and the association between values statement ratings and the patient's expressed treatment preference.
METHODS: We conducted a multi-site survey in 20 family practices. Patients aged 50 and older self-completed a questionnaire assessing the importance of eight values (rated 1 to 10), and indicated their preference for use of life-sustaining treatment (5 options). We compared correlations among values to a priori hypotheses based on whether the value related to prolonging or shortening life, and examined expected relationships between importance of values and the preference option for life-sustaining treatment.
RESULTS: Eight hundred ten patients participated (92% response rate). Of 24 a priori predicted correlations among values statements, 14 were statistically significant but nearly all were negligible in their magnitude and some were in the opposite direction than expected. For example, the correlation between importance of being comfortable and suffering as little as possible and the importance of living as long as possible should have been inversely correlated but was positively correlated (r = 0.08, p = 0.03). Correlations between importance of values items and preference were negligible, ranging from 0.03 to 0.13.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients may not recognize that trade-offs in what is most important may be needed when considering the use of treatments. In the context of preparation for decision-making during serious illness, decision aids that highlight these trade-offs and connect values to preferences more directly may be more helpful than those that do not.
CONTEXT: Standardized outcomes that define successful advance care planning (ACP) are lacking.
OBJECTIVE: To create an Organizing Framework of ACP outcome constructs and rate the importance of these outcomes.
METHODS: This study convened a Delphi panel consisting of 52 multidisciplinary, international ACP experts including clinicians, researchers, and policy leaders from four countries. We conducted literature reviews and solicited attendee input from 5 international ACP conferences to identify initial ACP outcome constructs. In 5 Delphi rounds, we asked panelists to rate patient-centered outcomes on a 7-point "not-at-all" to "extremely important" scale. We calculated means and analyzed panelists' input to finalize an Organizing Framework and outcome rankings.
RESULTS: Organizing Framework outcome domains included process (e.g., attitudes), actions (e.g., discussions), quality of care (e.g., satisfaction), and healthcare (e.g., utilization). The top 5 outcomes included (1) care consistent with goals, mean 6.71 (±SD 0.04); (2) surrogate designation, 6.55 (0.45); (3) surrogate documentation, 6.50 (0.11); (4) discussions with surrogates, 6.40 (0.19); and (5) documents and recorded wishes are accessible when needed 6.27 (0.11). Advance directive documentation was ranked 10(th), 6.01 (0.21). Panelists raised caution about whether "care consistent with goals" can be reliably measured.
CONCLUSION: A large, multidisciplinary Delphi panel developed an Organizing Framework and rated the importance of ACP outcome constructs. Top rated outcomes should be used to evaluate the success of ACP initiatives. More research is needed to create reliable and valid measurement tools for the highest rated outcomes, particularly "care consistent with goals."