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“There’s no cure for this condition”: How physicians discuss advance care planning in heart failure.

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journal contribution
posted on 19.02.2014 by Sangeeta C. Ahluwalia, Jennifer R. Levin, Karl A. Lorenz, Howard S. Gordon
Objective: To evaluate the extent to which physicians engage in recommended elements of advance care planning (ACP) communication during outpatient clinic visits with heart failure (HF) patients. Methods: We conducted a qualitative content analysis of 71 audio-recorded and transcribed outpatient visits with 52 patients >= 65 years recently hospitalized for HF and their physicians (n = 44). Results: We identified 25 instances of ACP-related communication over 15 of the 71 visits: in 17 instances, physicians explained the nature of HF but only once was the life-limiting potential of HF Mentioned. Physicians discussed goals of care in 6 instances but elicited their patients' preferences in only 2 of those instances. Finally, physicians encouraged documentation of preferences in 2 instances. Conclusions: Despite recommendations for early ACP with HF patients, physicians rarely engaged in fundamental elements of ACP discussions during outpatient visits. We suggest a stepwise approach to supporting the process of ACP communication in practice. Practice implications: Given the importance of ACP in helping patients plan for their future care, outpatient clinicians should be helped to incorporate these discussions in the routine care of their HF patients. Using a simple heuristic might help physicians engage in fundamental elements of ACP during busy outpatient visits.


Supported in part by grant ECV-02-254 from VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D), Department of Veterans Affairs


Publisher Statement

NOTICE: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Patient Education and Counseling. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Patient Education and Counseling, Vol 91, Issue 2, 2013 DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2012.12.016


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