Purpose: As many as 20% of oncology patients receive chemotherapy in the last 14 days of their lives. This study characterized conversations between patients and cancer clinicians on chemotherapy cessation in the setting of advanced cancer.
Methods: This 3-site study captured real-time, audio-recorded interviews between oncology clinicians and patients with cancer during actual clinic visits. Audio-recordings were reviewed for discussion of chemotherapy cessation and were analyzed qualitatively.
Results: Among 525 recordings, 14 focused on stopping chemotherapy; 14 patients participated with 11 different clinicians. Two types of nonmutually exclusive conversation elements emerged: direct and specific elements that described an absence of effective therapeutic options and indirect elements. An example of a direct element is as follows: “…You know this is…always really tough…But I—I think that you may need more help…I think we’re close to stopping chemotherapy…And hospice is really helpful to have in place…” In contrast, the second conversation element was more convoluted: “…transplant is not an option and surgery is not an option…The options…are taking a pill…It doesn’t shrink the tumor…It may help you live a little longer. But I’m worried if [you] had the pill, it’s still a therapy and it still has side effects. I [am] worried if I give it to you now, that you’re so weak, it will make you worse.” No relationship seemed apparent between conversation elements and chemotherapy cessation.
Conclusions: Conversations on chemotherapy cessation are complex; multiple factors appear to drive the decision to stop.
Background: Advance care plans (ACP) provide patients the opportunity to communicate their goals and wishes for future care.
Local problem: A retrospective case note review of 50 inpatient deaths in 2017 confirmed a doctor had discussed expected death in 90%, however only 2% had an ACP.
Methods: Patients appropriate for ACP were identified on a single geriatrics ward. Interventions were implemented with monthly data collection. Patients with an ACP were followed prospectively. The initiatives were subsequently applied across six geriatrics wards.
Interventions: Interventions included improved identification of patients appropriate for ACP, doctor education and improved communication to general practitioners and healthcare providers.
Results: Before initiation of interventions on the pilot ward, ACP was completed for 38% of appropriate patients; this increased to a mean of 78.6% over 4 months post-interventions. During the pilot, 44 patients had an ACP. Of those discharged, 75% avoided readmission over the following 6 months. After applying the interventions across all geriatric wards, ACPs increased to a mean of 81.2% and was maintained 12 months later at 72%.
Conclusions: The initiatives formed a structure to promote the use of ACP on the wards. Care plans focused on individualising care and effective communication resulted in reduction of readmissions.
“I’m ready to quit,” she admits. “I’m tired and I miss my family.” I can see she is anxious for my response, fearful to disappoint.
Pat and I have known each other a long time. Most of our visits start with sheepish confessions about how she is not quite following my recommendations: “Yes, I’m still smoking.” “No, I haven’t called the genetic counselor back yet.” “I didn’t actually fill that prescription.” The revelations are generally followed with a self-deprecating quip: “I’m your worst patient, aren’t I?”.
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Introduction: Communication is considered a key skill for physicians globally and has formed a central part of medical curricula since the WHO identified it as a key attribute of the ‘5-star doctor’. Communication of poor prognosis to patients and caregivers is particularly challenging, yet an important example of physicians’ clinical communication, and a priority within palliative care research. Knowledge is scarce regarding the different positions physicians adopt during poor prognosis communication, especially in sub-Saharan countries.
Methods: This qualitative study took place at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital in Ghana’s Central Region. Physicians in the internal medicine department, with experience in communicating poor prognosis to patients and families on a weekly basis were purposively sampled. Based on the concept of information power, a maximum variation of participants, in terms of age, sex, seniority and experience was achieved after conducting 10 semistructured interviews in March 2019. Positioning theory was used as a theoretical lens to inform study design. The data were analysed through a constructivist thematic analysis approach.
Results: Physicians adopted six positions, considered as six different themes, during their communication of poor prognosis: clinical expert, educator, counsellor, communicator, protector and mentor. Physicians’ choice of position was fluid, guided by local context and wider health system factors. Physicians’ desire to communicate with patients and families in a way that met their needs highlighted three key challenges for communication of poor prognosis: linguistic difficulties, pluralistic health beliefs and the role of family. These challenges presented ethical complexities in relation to autonomy and non-maleficence.
Conclusion: Context is key to physicians’ communication of poor prognosis. Communication of poor prognosis is multifaceted, complex and unpredictable. Physicians’ communication training should be developed to emphasise contextual circumstances and physician support, and international policy models on physicians’ roles developed to include a greater focus on social accountability.
Introduction: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and interstitial lung disease have a significant burden of symptoms. Many are not offered palliative care (PC). Our aim was to investigate the attitudes to and barriers for PC among physicians.
Method: A web-based survey was conducted among members of the Danish Respiratory Society. The questionnaire included contextual (gender, age, clinical experience, type of center, patient caseload) and outcome questions (knowledge and use of statements for PC and advance care planning [ACP], practice of communication about end-of-life decisions, practice for referral to PC, barriers regarding structural surroundings, clinical skills, and organization).
Results: One hundred fifty-six (45%) physicians responded. Median age was 40 - 49 years and 55% were female. Fifty-two percent were specialists; 71% worked at a university hospital. The majority of physicians (60%) reported barriers for discussions about PC and ACP; 63% reported lack of time, 52% lack of multidisciplinary staff settings, 63% reported the unpredictability of the prognosis, and 20% insufficient awareness of patient's culture, religion, or spirituality. Fewer specialists than nonspecialists reported barriers toward ACP. The majority had knowledge of guidelines in PC and ACP, but only a minority used these in daily clinical practice.
Conclusion: The attitude toward PC and ACP conversations was positive and implementation was regarded as important, but only a minority performed these conversations in practice. Main barriers were lack of time and staff. Palliative care guidelines were known but only scarcely used. Structural changes at the organizational level to improve access to palliation for patients with nonmalignant chronic lung diseases are needed.
Jean-Pierre Gaume nous propose des clés pour transformer la relation malade - médecin en une véritable communication permettant ainsi au patient de se relier à sa maladie et de la vivre comme un langage porteur de sens. Pour parvenir à ce résultat, l'auteur a proposé dans son livre un guide de bonnes pratiques pour favoriser une écoute active et participative. Ce livre qui s'adresse à tous les soignants soucieux d'améliorer leur relation avec les malades, séduit par la richesse de son contenu et de sa documentation qui s'appuie sur plus de 190 références bibliographiques tirées de la littérature médicale, philosophique, historique, psychanalytique et éthique.
Jean-Pierre Gaume, à travers ses 40 années de médecine générale et ses 20 années d'enseignement de la discipline à la faculté de médecine, nous montre comment nous méfier des seules méthodes diagnostiques dépendantes de la biologie moléculaire, des isotopes ou de l'imagerie moderne pour accéder à la vérité du malade.
Context: Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis accompanied by significant emotional distress, especially for children with advanced disease. However, the content and processes of discussing emotion in advanced pediatric cancer remain unknown.
Objectives: To describe the initiation, response, and content of emotional communication in advanced pediatric cancer.
Methods: We audiorecorded 35 outpatient consultations between oncologists and families of children whose cancer recently progressed. We coded conversations based on Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences.
Results: About 91% of conversations contained emotional cues, and 40% contained explicit emotional concerns. Parents and clinicians equally initiated cues (parents: 48%, 183 of 385; clinicians: 49%) and concerns (parents: 51%; clinicians: 49%). Children initiated 3% of cues and no explicit concerns. Emotional content was most commonly related to physical aspects of cancer and/or treatment (28% of cues and/or concerns, present in 80% of conversations) and prognosis (27% of cues and/or concerns, present in 60% of conversations). Clinicians mostly responded to emotional cues and concerns implicitly, without specifically naming the emotion (85%). Back channeling (using minimal prompts or words that encourage further disclosure, e.g., uh-huh) was the most common implicit response that provided space for emotional disclosure (32% of all responses). Information advice was the most common implicit response that reduced space for further emotional disclosure (28%).
Conclusion: Emotional communication in advanced pediatric cancer appears to be a subtle process where parents offer hints and clinicians respond with non-emotion-laden statements. Also, children were seldom engaged in emotional conversations. Clinicians should aim to create an environment that allows families to express emotional distress if and/or when ready.
L'entretien entre un professionnel de santé et un patient ou son proche est à la fois le coeur et l'outil de la relation.
Si un échange peut soutenir les personnes, la seule présence du clinicien ne suffit pas, pas plus que la simple conversation.
Pour que l'entretien ait valeur d'acte thérapeutique, il importe que le professionnel adopte une écoute et une attitude spécifiques afin de favoriser l'expression du patient ou de son proche.
Les auteurs, médecins, soignants, psychologues cliniciens, ne livrent pas des trames d'entretiens valables en toutes circonstances, mais des approches applicables à la singularité de chacun.
Ils partagent la richesse de leur pratique quotidienne d'entretiens, qu'ils exercent dans des services de réanimation, de médecine, ou dans le champ psychosocial.
Ils détaillent la diversité de leurs rencontres avec des patients, leur entourage ou toute personne en besoin d'aide et de soutien, que ce soit dans le cadre d'une consultation dédiée ou de façon plus informelle.
Les situations cliniques abordées permettent de saisir les enjeux de l'annonce concernant une évolution défavorable en réanimation, la limitation ou l'arrêt de thérapeutiques actives, le prélèvement d'organes, ou la nécessité d'une dialyse.
Les psychologues sont aussi conduits à intervenir dans des situations de soutien à la parentalité, face à des personnes âgées, en fin de vie, migrantes, des victimes d'abus sexuel, etc.
Cet ouvrage fournit à l'ensemble des professionnels de la santé des repères pour veiller à ce que l'entretien soit un acte thérapeutique.
Il s'agit de contribuer à une avancée vers un mieux-être du patient ou de ses proches, qui vivent des expériences générant des émotions intenses.
BACKGROUND: Early integration of palliative care concurrently to standard cancer care is associated with several benefits for patients and their caregivers. However, communication barriers on part of the caring physicians often impede a timely referral to palliative care. This study describes the protocol of the evaluation of a communication skills training aiming to strengthen the ability of physicians to address palliative care related topics adequately and early during disease trajectory.
METHODS: We will implement a communication skills training and evaluate it within a prospective, multi-centered, two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), which will be conducted at four sites in Germany. Eligible subjects are all physicians treating patients with advanced cancer in their daily routine. An intervention group (IG) receiving a group training will be compared to a wait-list control group (CG) receiving the training after completion of data collection. At pre- and post-measurement points, participants will conduct videotaped conversations with standardized simulated patients (SP). Primary outcome will be the external rating of communication skills and consulting competencies addressing palliative care related topics. Secondary outcomes on core concepts of palliative care, basic knowledge, attitudes, confidence and self-efficacy will be assessed by standardized questionnaires and self-developed items. A further external assessment of the quality of physician-patient-interaction will be conducted by the SP. Longitudinal quantitative data will be analyzed using covariate-adjusted linear mixed-models.
DISCUSSION: If the communication skills training proves to be effective, it will provide a feasible intervention to promote an earlier communication of palliative care related topics in the care of advanced cancer patients. This would help to further establish early integration of palliative care as it is recommended by national and international guidelines.
Hispanic Americans are among the fastest growing minority groups in the USA, and understanding their preferences for medical decision-making and information sharing is imperative to provide high quality end of life care. Studies exploring these decision control preferences (DCPs) are limited and found inconsistent results. (1) To measure DCPs of Hispanic patients in the Bronx. (2) To measure disclosure of information preferences of Hispanic patients in the Bronx. This is a cross-sectional survey. One hundred nineteen cancer patients who self-identified as Hispanic and were waiting at the oncology clinic at Montefiore Medical Center Cancer Center. Proportions of patients endorsing DCPs and disclosure of information preferences are reported. The relationship between patient characteristics and DCPs was tested using chi-squared tests of homogeneity. The majority (63, 52.9%) preferred shared decision-making with their doctors, families or both, while 46 (38.7%) had an active decision-making style. A minority (9, 7.6%) had a passive decision-making style, deferring to their families, and only 1 (0.8%) deferring to the physician. No demographic characteristics significantly predicted DCPs. The majority of patients agreed or strongly agreed that they wanted to hear all of the information regarding their diagnosis (94%), treatment options (94%), treatment expectations (92%), and treatment risks and benefits (96%). These results confirm our hypothesis that most Hispanic patients prefer either an active or shared decision-making process rather than a passive decision-making process. Most patients prefer disclosure of diagnosis, prognosis, and plan.
PURPOSE: Patients with advanced cancer often have a poor understanding of cancer incurability, which correlates with more aggressive treatment near the end of life (EOL). We sought to determine whether training oncologists to elicit patient values for goals-of-care (GoC) discussions will increase and improve these discussions. We explored its impact on use of aggressive care at EOL.
METHODS: We enrolled and used block randomization to assign 92% of solid tumor oncologists to 2-hour communication skills training and four coaching sessions. We surveyed 265 patient with newly diagnosed advanced cancer with < 2-year life expectancy at baseline and 6 months. We assessed prevalence and quality of GoC communication, change in communication skills, and use of aggressive care in the last month of life.
RESULTS: Intervention (INT) oncologists' (n = 11) skill to elicit patient values increased (27%-55%), while usual care (UC) oncologists' (n = 11) skill did not (9%-0%; P = .01). Forty-eight percent (n = 74) INT v 51% (n = 56) UC patients reported a GoC discussion (P = .61). There was no difference in the prevalence or quality of GoC communication between groups (global odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.57 to 1.23). Within 6 months, there was no difference in deaths (18 INT v 16 UC; P = .51), mean hospitalizations (0.47 INT v 0.42 UC; P = .63), intensive care unit admissions (5% INT v 9% UC; P = .65), or chemotherapy (26% INT v 16% UC; P = .39).
CONCLUSION: Use of a coaching model focused on teaching oncologists to elicit patient values improved that skill but did not increase prevalence or quality of GoC discussions among patients with advanced cancer. There was no impact on high care utilization at EOL.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic treatment is no longer available may be offered participation in early phase clinical trials. In the decision making process, both medical-technical information and patient values and preferences are important. Since patients report decisional conflict after deciding on participation in these trials, improving the decision making process is essential. We aim to develop and evaluate an Online Value Clarification Tool (OnVaCT) to assist patients in clarifying their values around this end-of-life decision. This improved sharing of values is hypothesized to support medical oncologists in tailoring their information to individual patients’ needs and, consequently, to support patients in taking decisions in line with their values and reduce decisional conflict.
Methods: In the first part, patients’ values and preferences and medical oncologists’ views hereupon will be explored in interviews and focus groups to build a first prototype OnVaCT using digital communication (serious gaming). Next, we will test feasibility during think aloud sessions, to deliver a ready-to-implement OnVaCT. In the second part, the OnVaCT, with accompanied training module, will be evaluated in a pre-test (12–18 months before implementation) post-test (12–18 months after implementation) study in three major Dutch cancer centres. We will include 276 patients (> 18 years) with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic therapy is no longer available, and who are referred for participation in early phase clinical trials. The first consultation will be recorded to analyse patient-physician communication regarding the discussion of patients’ values and the decision making process. Three weeks afterwards, decisional conflict will be measured.
Discussion: This project aims to support the discussion of patient values when considering participation in early phase clinical trials. By including patients before their first appointment with the medical oncologist and recording that consultation, we are able to link decisional conflict to the decision making process, e.g. the communication during consultation. The study faces challenges such as timely including patients within the short period between referral and first consultation. Furthermore, with new treatments being developed rapidly, molecular stratification may affect the patient populations included in the pre-test and post-test periods.
Rose presented for her first visit to our rural oncology clinic with systolic blood pressure of 220 mm Hg and diastolic 110 mm Hg. She waved my concerns aside with an impatient swipe of her arm. She was there, she wanted me to know, only to talk about her lung cancer.
She cast her steely gaze on me. Did I have her records? I assured her that I did, and that I had done my homework. The records told me that she had first been seen at the tertiary center 2 hours away, where they had established the diagnosis. She had then been referred to me at our rural site to start treatment closer to her home. The disease was locally advanced, stage III, and inoperable. The tertiary center recommended concurrent chemotherapy with radiation or enrollment in a clinical trial.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in end-of-life communication with people with cancer in general practice.
METHODS: Mortality follow-back survey among general practitioners (GPs) in representative epidemiological surveillance networks in Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Spain (ES) in 2009-2010 (ES: 2010-2011) and 2013-2014. Using a standardised form, GPs registered all deceased adult patients in their practice and reported for five end-of-life care topics whether they had been discussed with the patient. Non-sudden cancer deaths were included (n=2306; BE: 1233; NL: 729; ES: 344).
RESULTS: A statistically significant increase was found between 2009/2010 and 2014 in the prevalence of communication about diagnosis (from 84% to 94%) and options for end-of-life care (from 73% to 90%) in BE, and in GPs' awareness of patients' preferences for medical treatment and a proxy decision-maker in BE (from 41% and 20% up to 53% and 28%) and the NL (from 62% and 32% up to 70% and 52%). Communication about options for end-of-life care and psychosocial problems decreased in the NL (from 88% and 91% down to 73%) and ES (from 76% and 77% down to 26% and 39%).
CONCLUSION: Considerable change in GP-patient communication seems possible in a relatively short time span, but communication cannot be assumed to increase over time. Increasing specialisation of care and task differentiation may lead to new roles in communication for healthcare providers in primary and secondary care. Improved information sharing between GPs and other healthcare providers may be necessary to ensure that patients have the chance to discuss important end-of-life topics.
BACKGROUND: While prognostic information is considered important for treatment decision-making, physicians struggle to communicate prognosis to advanced cancer patients. This systematic review aimed to offer up-to-date, evidence-based guidance on prognostic communication in palliative oncology.
METHODS: PubMed and PsycInfo were searched until September 2019 for literature on the association between prognostic disclosure (strategies) and patient outcomes in palliative cancer care, and its moderators. Methodological quality was reported.
RESULTS: Eighteen studies were included. Concerning prognostic disclosure, results revealed a positive association with patients' prognostic awareness. Findings showed no or positive associations between prognostic disclosure and the physician-patient relationship or the discussion of care preferences. Evidence for an association with the documentation of care preferences or physical outcomes was lacking. Findings on the emotional consequences of prognostic disclosure were multifaceted. Concerning disclosure strategies, affective communication seemingly reduced patients' physiological arousal and improved perceived physician's support. Affective and explicit communication showed no or beneficial effects on patients' psychological well-being and satisfaction. Communicating multiple survival scenarios improved prognostic understanding. Physicians displaying expertise, positivity and collaboration fostered hope. Evidence on demographic, clinical and personality factors moderating the effect of prognostic communication was weak.
CONCLUSION: If preferred by patients, physicians could disclose prognosis using sensible strategies. The combination of explicit and affective communication, multiple survival scenarios and expert, positive, collaborative behaviour likely benefits most patients. Still, more evidence is needed, and tailoring communication to individual patients is warranted.
IMPLICATIONS: Future research should examine the effect of prognostic communication on psychological well-being over time and treatment decision-making, and focus on individualising care.
Since Oregon implemented its Death with Dignity Act, many additional states have followed suit demonstrating a growing understanding and acceptance of aid in dying (AID) processes. Traditionally, the patient has been the one to request and seek this option out. However, as Death with Dignity acts continue to expand, it will impact the role of physicians and bring up questions over whether physicians have the ethical obligation to facilitate a conversation about AID with patients during end of life discussions. Patients have the right to make informed decisions about their health, which implies that physicians have an obligation to discuss with and inform patients of the options that will accomplish the patients’ goals of care. We will argue that physicians have an ethical obligation to inform certain patients about AID (in qualifying states) during end of life care discussions. We will also address what this obligation encompasses and explore guidelines of when and how these conversations should occur and proceed. Earlier guidelines, presented by various palliative care and ethics experts, for proceeding with such conversations have mostly agreed that the discussion of hospice and end of life care with patients should be initiated early and that the individual goals of a patient during the remaining duration of life should be thoroughly examined before discussion of appropriate options. In discussing AID, physicians should never recommend but inform patients about the basics so that they can make an informed decision. If patients express further interest in AID, the physician should open up the dialogue to address the reasoning behind this decision versus other possible treatments to ensure that patients clearly comprehend the process and implications of their decision. Ultimately, any end of life choice should be made by patients with the full capacity to express what they envision for the remaining duration of life and to comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of all the possible options.
Background: General practitioners’ (GPs) play a central role in facilitating end-of-life discussions with older patients nearing the end-of-life. However, prognostic uncertainty of time to death is one important barrier to initiation of these discussions.
Objective: To explore GPs’ perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of a risk prediction checklist to identify older patients in their last 12 months of life and describe perceived barriers and facilitators for implementing end-of-life planning.
Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 GPs practising in metropolitan locations in New South Wales and Queensland between May and June 2019. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Eight themes emerged: accessibility and implementation of the checklist, uncertainty around checklist’s accuracy and usefulness, time of the checklist, checklist as a potential prompt for end-of-life conversations, end-of-life conversations not an easy topic, end-of-life conversation requires time and effort, uncertainty in identifying end-of-life patients and limited community literacy on end-of-life. Most participants welcomed a risk prediction checklist in routine practice if assured of its accuracy in identifying which patients were nearing end-of-life.
Conclusions: Most participating GPs saw the value in risk assessment and end-of-life planning. Many emphasized the need for appropriate support, tools and funding for prognostic screening and end-of-life planning for this to become routine in general practice. Well validated risk prediction tools are needed to increase clinician confidence in identifying risk of death to support end-of-life care planning.
PURPOSE: Opportunities for advance care planning (ACP) discussions continue to be missed despite the demonstrated benefit of such conversations. This is in part because of a poor understanding of patient preferences. We aimed to determine oncology patients’ preferences surrounding ACP with a focus on the choice of which health care providers to have the conversation with and the timing of conversations.
METHODS: cross-sectional 19-question survey of surgical and medical oncology patients in a tertiary care hospital was conducted that assessed knowledge, experience, and preferences surrounding ACP. Quantitative variables were reported with descriptive statistics, and a coding structure was developed to analyze qualitative data.
RESULTS: Two hundred patients were surveyed. Only 24% of patients reported previously having ACP discussions with their physicians despite 82.5% reporting a wish to do so. Patients felt that these discussions were a priority for them (to alleviate familial guilt, maintain control, and prevent others’ values from guiding end-of-life care), but they reported that previous experiences with ACP had been neither comprehensive nor effective. Most patients (43.5%) preferred to have ACP discussions with their primary care providers (PCPs) compared with 7% preferring their surgeon and 5.5% preferring their oncologist. Trust and familiarity with PCPs arose as the dominant theme underlying this selection. Most patients (94%) preferred to have ACP discussions early, with 45% wishing such a discussion had been initiated before their cancer diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Patients with cancer prefer to have ACP discussions with their PCPs and prefer to do so early in their disease course.
Objectives: To estimate the probability of a substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing an affirmative patient response to the phrase "Do you want everything done?"
Design: Discrete choice experiment.
Setting: Single community hospital in Ontario.
Subjects: Nonrandom sampling of healthcare providers and the public.
Intervention: Online survey.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,621 subjects who entered the survey, 692 consented and 432 completed the survey. Females comprised 73% of subjects. Over 95% of subjects were under 65 years old, and 50% had some intensive care-related exposure. Healthcare providers comprised 29% of the subjects. The relative importance of attributes for determining the probability of withdraw life-sustaining therapy by substitute decision makers was as follows: stated patient preferences equals to 23.4%; patient age equals to 20.6%; physical function prognosis equals to 15.2%; length of ICU stay equals to 14.4%; survival prognosis equals to 13.8%; and prognosis for communication equals to 12.6%. Using attribute level utilities, the probability of an substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing a patient answer in the affirmative "Do you want everything done?" compared with "I would not want to live if I could not take care of myself" was 18.8% (95% CI, 17.2-20.4%) versus 59.8% (95% CI, 57.6-62.0%) after controlling for all the other five attribute levels in the scenario: age greater than 80 years; survival prognosis less than 1%; length of ICU stay greater than 6 months; communication equals to unresponsive; and physical equals to bed bound.
Conclusions: Using a discrete choice experiment survey, we estimated the impact of a commonly employed and poorly understood phrase physicians may use when discussing advance care plans with patients and their substitute decision makers on the subsequent withdraw life-sustaining therapies. This phrase is predicted to dramatically reduce the likelihood of withdraw life-sustaining therapy even in medically nonbeneficial scenarios and potentially contribute to low-value end-of-life care and outcomes. The immediate cessation of this term should be reinforced in medical training for all healthcare providers who participate in advance care planning.
Background: To improve the quality of advance care planning (ACP) in primary care, it is important to understand the frequency of and topics involved in the ACP discussion between patients and their family physicians (FPs).
Methods: A secondary analysis of a previous multicenter cross-sectional observational study was performed. The primary outcome of this analysis was the frequency of and topics involved in the ACP discussion between outpatients and FPs. In March 2017, 22 family physicians at 17 clinics scheduled a day to assess outpatients and enrolled patients older than 65 years who were recognized by FPs as having regular visits. We defined three ACP discussion topics: 1) future decline in activities of daily living (ADL), 2) future inability to eat, and 3) surrogate decision makers. FPs assessed whether they had ever discussed any ACP topics with each patient and their family members, and if they had documented the results of these discussions in medical records before patients were enrolled in the present study. We defined patients as being at risk of deteriorating and dying if they had at least 2 positive general indicators or at least 1 positive disease-specific indicator in the Japanese version of the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool.
Results: In total, 382 patients with a mean age of 77.4 ± 7.9 years were enrolled, and 63.1% were female. Seventy-nine patients (20.7%) had discussed at least one ACP topic with their FPs. However, only 23 patients (6.0%) had discussed an ACP topic with family members and their FPs, with the results being documented in their medical records. The topic of future ADL decline was discussed and documented more often than the other two topics. Patients at risk of deteriorating and dying discussed ACP topics significantly more often than those not at risk of deteriorating and dying (39.4% vs. 16.8%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: FPs may discuss ACP with some of their patients, but may not often document the results of this discussion in medical records. FPs need to be encouraged to discuss ACP with patients and family members and describe the decisions reached in medical records.