Advance care planning improves end of life care and reduces stress for relatives

Mar 24, 2010

Advance care planning improves end of life care and reduces stress, anxiety and depression in surviving relatives, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal today.

Advance care planning has the potential to improve end of life care by enabling patients to discuss and document their future health wishes, and appoint a substitute decision maker (surrogate), thus increasing the likelihood of patient wishes being known and respected at the end of life.

But no randomised controlled trials have investigated whether advance care planning improves end of life care.

So researchers based in Australia set out to test the theory that coordinated advance care planning would improve end of life care, the perceptions of the quality of care, and levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in surviving relatives.

Their study involved 309 competent patients aged 80 or more who were admitted to a large university hospital in Melbourne between August 2007 and March 2008.

A total of 155 patients received usual care (control group) and 154 received usual care plus advance care planning from trained non-medical facilitators (intervention group). Advance care planning aimed to assist patients to reflect on their goals, values, and beliefs; to consider future preferences; to appoint a surrogate; and to document their wishes.

All patients were followed for six months or until death.

Of the 56 patients who died by six months, end of life wishes were much more likely to be known and followed in the intervention group (86%) compared with the (30%).

In the intervention group, family members of patients who died had significantly less stress, anxiety, and depression than those of control patients. Patient and family satisfaction was also much higher in the .

This trial shows that advance care planning carried out properly by trained non-medical staff improves end of life care by enabling patients' wishes to be determined, documented, and respected at end of life, conclude the authors.

It also improves such care from the perspective of the patient and the family, and diminishes the likelihood of , , and depression in surviving relatives.

Explore further: Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

End of life physician-patient communication

Jul 22, 2008

Although a growing body of research supports a link between effective communication and patient, family and physician satisfaction, doctors, including oncologists and other specialists who frequently care for terminal patients, ...

Recommended for you

Jamaica Senate starts debate on pot decriminalization bill

Jan 30, 2015

Jamaica's Senate on Friday started debating a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and establish a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry on the island where the drug ...

Can Lean Management improve hospitals?

Jan 30, 2015

Waiting times in hospital emergency departments could be cut with the introduction of Lean Management and Six Sigma techniques according to new research.

Research finds 90 percent of home chefs contaminate food

Jan 30, 2015

If you're gearing up for a big Super Bowl bash, you might want to consult the best food-handling practices before preparing that feast. New research from Kansas State University finds that most home chefs drop the ball on ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.