Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the challenges anticipated by clinical staff in two Melbourne health services in relation to the legalisation of voluntary assisted dying in Victoria, Australia.
Methods: A qualitative approach was used to investigate perceived challenges for clinicians. Data were collected after the law had passed but before the start date for voluntary assisted dying in Victoria. This work is part of a larger mixed-methods anonymous online survey about Victorian clinicians' views on voluntary assisted dying. Five open-ended questions were included in order to gather text data from a large number of clinicians in diverse roles. Participants included medical, nursing and allied health staff from two services, one a metropolitan tertiary referral health service (Service 1) and the other a major metropolitan health service (Service 2). The data were analysed thematically using qualitative description.
Results: In all, 1086 staff provided responses to one or more qualitative questions: 774 from Service 1 and 312 from Service 2. Clinicians anticipated a range of challenges, which included burdens for staff, such as emotional toll, workload and increased conflict with colleagues, patients and families. Challenges regarding organisational culture, the logistics of delivering voluntary assisted dying under the specific Victorian law and how voluntary assisted dying would fit within the hospital's overall work were also raised.
Conclusions: The legalisation of voluntary assisted dying is anticipated to create a range of challenges for all types of clinicians in the hospital setting. Clinicians identified challenges both at the individual and system levels.What is known about the topic? Voluntary assisted dying became legal in Victoria on 19 June 2019 under the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017. However there has been little Victorian data to inform implementation.What does this paper add? Victorian hospital clinicians anticipate challenges at the individual and system levels, and across all clinical disciplines. These challenges include increased conflict, emotional burden and workload. Clinicians report concerns about organisational culture, the logistics of delivering voluntary assisted dying under the specific Victorian law and effects on hospitals' overall work. What are the implications for practitioners? Careful attention to the breadth of staff affected, alongside appropriate resourcing, will be needed to support clinicians in the context of this legislative change.
OBJECTIVE: Advance care planning (ACP) assists people to identify their goals, values and treatment preferences for future care. Ideally, preferences are documented in an advance care directive (ACD) and used by doctors to guide medical decision-making should the patient subsequently lose their decision-making capacity. However, studies demonstrate that ACDs are not always adhered to by doctors in clinical practice. We aim to describe the attitudes and perspectives of doctors regarding ACD adherence and the utility of ACDs in clinical practice.
DESIGN: Face-to-face semistructured interviews were conducted using three case-based vignettes to explore doctors' decision-making and attitudes towards ACDs. Transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis.
SETTING: Doctors from a variety of medical specialties and with varying experience levels were recruited from a large tertiary hospital in Melbourne, Australia.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 21 doctors were interviewed, 48% female (10/21). Most (19/21) reported having experience using ACDs.
RESULTS: Four themes were identified: aligning with patient preferences (avoiding unwanted care, prioritising autonomy and anticipating family opposition), advocating best interests (defining futile care, relying on clinical judgement, rejecting unreasonable decisions and disregarding legal consequences), establishing validity (doubting rigour of the decision-making process, questioning patients' ability to understand treatment decisions, distrusting outdated preferences and seeking confirmation) and translating written preferences into practice (contextualising patient preferences, applying subjective terminology and prioritising emergency medical treatment).
CONCLUSIONS: ACDs provide doctors with opportunities to align patient preferences with treatment and uphold patient autonomy. However, doctors experience decisional conflict when attempting to adhere to ACDs in practice, especially when they believe that adhering to the ACD is not in the patients' best interests, or if they doubt the validity of the ACD. Future ACP programmes should consider approaches to improve the validity and applicability of ACDs. In addition, there is a need for ethical and legal education to support doctors' knowledge and confidence in ACP and enacting ACDs.
BACKGROUND: Economic evaluations of advance care planning (ACP) in people with chronic kidney disease are scarce. However, past studies suggest ACP may reduce healthcare costs in other settings. We aimed to examine hospital costs and outcomes of a nurse-led ACP intervention compared with usual care in the last 12 months of life for older people with end-stage kidney disease managed with haemodialysis.
METHODS: We simulated the natural history of decedents on dialysis, using hospital data, and modelled the effect of nurse-led ACP on end-of-life care. Outcomes were assessed in terms of patients' end-of-life treatment preferences being met or not, and costs included all hospital-based care. Model inputs were obtained from a prospective ACP cohort study among dialysis patients; renal registries and the published literature. Cost-effectiveness of ACP was assessed by calculating an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER), expressed in dollars per additional case of end-of-life preferences being met. Robustness of model results was tested through sensitivity analyses.
RESULTS: The mean cost of ACP was AUD$519 per patient. The mean hospital costs of care in last 12 months of life were $100,579 for those who received ACP versus $87,282 for those who did not. The proportion of patients in the model who received end-of-life care according to their preferences was higher in the ACP group compared with usual care (68% vs. 24%). The incremental cost per additional case of end-of-life preferences being met was $28,421. The greatest influence on the cost-effectiveness of ACP was the probability of dying in hospital following dialysis withdrawal, and costs of acute care.
CONCLUSION: Our model suggests nurse-led ACP leads to receipt of patient preferences for end-of-life care, but at an increased cost.
Context: Advance care planning (ACP) documentation needs to be available at the point of care to guide and inform medical treatment decision-making.
Objective: To examine concordance between self-reported completion of ACP documentation and self-reported storage of the documentation at the person's current point of care with the availability of the documentation in that person's health record.
Methods: A national multicenter audit of health records and a self-report survey of eligible audit participants in 51 Australian health and residential aged care services. The audit assessed availability of ACP documentation in the health record, whereas the survey assessed self-reported completion and storage of the ACP documentation at the person's current place of care. To ascertain concordance, survey and audit data were cross-tabulated and concordance rates and kappa statistics were calculated overall and by health care sector and ACP documentation type.
Results: The audit included 2285 people, of whom 1082 were eligible for the survey. Of 507 who completed the survey (response rate = 47%), 272 (54%) reported completing ACP documentation, of whom 130 (48%) had documentation identified in the audit. Conversely, 39 of 235 people (17%) who reported not completing ACP documentation had documentation identified (concordance rate = 64%; = 0.303, P < .001). The concordance rate increased to 79% when self-reported storage of ACP documentation at the person's current point of care was compared with the existence of the document in their health record ( = 0.510, P < .001). Concordance varied by health care setting and type of ACP documentation.
Conclusion: Discrepancies exist between self-reported completion of ACP documentation and the presence of these documents in the health records of older adults, representing a significant patient safety issue. Public education campaigns and improvements to systems for document storage and accessibility are required to support person-centered medical and end-of-life care.
CONTEXT: Volunteer involvement may support organizations to initiate and operationalize complex interventions such as advance care planning (ACP).
OBJECTIVES: A scoping review was conducted to map existing research on volunteer involvement in ACP, and to identify gaps in current knowledge base.
METHODS: We Followed the PRISMA extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines. The review included studies of any design reporting original research. ACP was defined as any intervention aimed at supporting people to consider and communicate their current and future health treatment goals in the context of their own preferences and values. Studies were included if they reported data relating to volunteers at any stage in the delivery of ACP.
RESULTS: Of 11 studies identified, 9 different ACP models (initiatives to improve uptake of ACP) were described. The majority of the models involved volunteers facilitating ACP conversations or advance care directive completion (n=6); and three focused on ACP education, training and support. However, a framework for volunteer involvement in ACP was not described; the studies often provided limited detail of the scope of volunteers' roles in ACP and in three of the models, volunteers delivered ACP initiatives in addition to undertaking other tasks, in their primary role as a Volunteer Navigator. Increased frequency of ACP conversation or documentation was most commonly used to evaluate the effectiveness of the studies, with most showing a trend toward improvement.
CONCLUSIONS: Current literature on volunteer involvement in ACP is lacking a systematic approach to implementation. We suggest future research focus on person-centered outcomes related to ACP to evaluate the effectiveness of volunteer involvement.
BACKGROUND:: Advance care planning aims to ensure that care received during serious and chronic illness is consistent with the person's values, preferences and goals. However, less than 40% of people with dementia undertake advance care planning internationally.
AIM:: This study aims to describe the perspectives of people with dementia and their carers on advance care planning and end-of-life care.
DESIGN:: Systematic review and thematic synthesis of qualitative studies.
DATA SOURCES:: Electronic databases were searched from inception to July 2018.
RESULTS:: From 84 studies involving 389 people with dementia and 1864 carers, five themes were identified: avoiding dehumanising treatment and care (remaining connected, delaying institutionalisation, rejecting the burdens of futile treatment); confronting emotionally difficult conversations (signifying death, unpreparedness to face impending cognitive decline, locked into a pathway); navigating existential tensions (accepting inevitable incapacity and death, fear of being responsible for cause of death, alleviating decisional responsibility); defining personal autonomy (struggling with unknown preferences, depending on carer advocacy, justifying treatments for health deteriorations); and lacking confidence in healthcare settings (distrusting clinicians' mastery and knowledge, making uninformed choices, deprived of hospice access and support at end of life).
CONCLUSION:: People with dementia and their carers felt uncertain in making treatment decisions in the context of advance care planning and end-of-life care. Advance care planning strategies that attend to people's uncertainty in decision-making may help to empower people with dementia and carers and strengthen person-centred care in this context.
AIM: To examine the efficacy of advance care planning (ACP) to improve the likelihood that end-stage kidney disease (ESKD) patient's preferences will be known and adhered to at end-of-life.
METHODS: A case-control study of a nurse-led ACP program in adults with ESKD from a major tertiary hospital. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients whose preferences were known (by substitute decision maker and/or clinicians) and adhered to by their treating doctors. Secondary measures were health system resource use and costs ($AUD) for a nurse-led ACP intervention in the last 12-months of life.
RESULTS: In total, 57 cases (38 men, mean age 73.8 years) and 57 historical controls (38 men, mean age 74.0 years) were included. Cases (38/57, 67%) were significantly more likely than controls (15/57, 26%) to have their preferences known and adhered to by their treating doctor at end-of-life (p<0.001). Cases (33/40, 83%) were also significantly more likely to withdraw from dialysis in accordance with their preferences than controls (11/33, 33%) (p<0.001). For cases, the average hospital costs in the last 12 months of life was AUD $99,077 (SD = $71,002) per patient. The total cost of the ACP program in 2010/11 was AUD $26,821.
CONCLUSION: ACP was associated with improvements in end-of-life care preferences known and adhered to for people with ESKD.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) is a process of planning for future health and personal care. A person's values and preferences are made known so that they can guide decision making at a future time when that person cannot make or communicate his or her decisions. This is particularly relevant for people with dementia because their ability to make decisions progressively deteriorates over time. This study aims to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of delivering a nationwide ACP program within the Australian primary care setting.
METHODS: A decision analytic model was developed to identify the costs and outcomes of an ACP program for people aged 65+ years who were at risk of developing dementia. Inputs for the model was sourced and estimated from the literature. The reliability of the results was thoroughly tested in sensitivity analyses.
RESULTS: The results showed that, compared to usual care, a nationwide ACP program for people aged 65+ years who were at risk of dementia would be cost-effective. However, the results only hold if ACP completion is higher than 50% and adherence to ACP wishes is above 75%.
CONCLUSIONS: A nationwide ACP program in the primary care setting is a cost-effective or cost-saving intervention compared to usual care in a population at-risk of developing dementia. Cost savings are generated from providing treatment and care that is consistent with patient preferences, resulting in fewer hospitalisations and less-intensive care at end-of-life.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) empowers patients to consider and communicate their current and future treatment goals. However, it can be an emotionally charged process for patients with kidney disease and their caregivers. This study aimed to describe the perspectives and attitudes of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and their caregivers toward ACP.
STUDY DESIGN: Qualitative study.
SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: Patients with ESRD (n=24) and their caregivers (n=15) aged 36 to 91 years at various stages of ACP ("not commenced," "in progress," or "completed") from 3 renal services.
METHODOLOGY: Semistructured interviews.
ANALYTICAL APPROACH: Transcripts were analyzed using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: 5 major themes were identified: articulating core values (avoiding futile and undignified treatment, reevaluating terms of dialysis, framing a life worth living, and refusing to be a burden), confronting conversations (signifying death and defeat, accepting inevitable death, and alleviating existential tension), negotiating mutual understanding (broaching taboos and assisting conflicted caregivers), challenging patient autonomy (family pressures to continue dialysis, grief diminishing caregivers' capacity, and leveraging support), and decisional disempowerment (lacking medical transparency and disappointment with clinical disinterest).
LIMITATIONS: Only English-speaking patients/caregivers participated in the interview.
CONCLUSIONS: ACP provides patients with ESRD and their caregivers a conduit for accepting and planning for impending death and to express treatment preferences based on self-dignity and value of living. However, ACP can be considered taboo, may require caregivers to overcome personal and decisional conflict, and may be complex if patients and caregivers are unable to accept the reality of the patient's illness. We suggest that ACP facilitators and clinicians make ACP more acceptable and less confrontational to patients and caregivers and that strategies be put in place to support caregivers who may be experiencing overwhelming grief or who have conflicting goals, particularly when they are called on to make end-of-life decisions.