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.
The objective of this study was to describe primary care clinicians’ perspectives on having ACP conversations with their patients.
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.
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).
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.