How is advance care planning conceptualised in Australia? Findings from key informant interviews
Objective. Advance Care Planning (ACP) has been gaining prominence as an important component of good end-of-life care. This study explored how ACP is conceptualised by stakeholder organisations and clinicians involved in aged care and end-of-life care in Australia, in particular their views on the aim, appropriate context and settings for ACP, and how ACP should be facilitated. Participants. Twenty-three participants including expert clinicians and representatives of government organisations, professional societies, consumer groups and other organisations involved in aged care and end-of-life care. Design. Qualitative descriptive analysis of semi-structured telephone interviews. Results. Most participants viewed ACP as an ongoing process aimed at enhancing an individual's autonomy and ensuring good end-of-life care. However, there were significant differences in how this process was conceptualised. Some viewed ACP as a process undertaken by patients to define and communicate their treatment preferences. Others viewed ACP as discussions undertaken by health professionals to gain a better understanding of the patient's values and goals in order to provide good care. Implications. Our findings highlight significant differences in how ACP is conceptualised in Australia. A shared conceptualisation and agreement on purpose is needed to ensure a successful implementation of ACP in Australia. What is known about the topic? Advance care planning (ACP) has been gaining increasing prominence both internationally and in Australia and is seen as an important component of good end-of-life care. Originally conceptualised as a document outlining a patient's specific treatment preferences about life-sustaining treatments, ACP has been increasingly recognised in the literature as an ongoing process of discussion, communication and documentation of the patient's wishes and values regarding end-of-life care. What does this paper add? This paper shows that most expert clinicians and representatives of key stakeholder organisations view ACP as a process that aims to enhance individual autonomy and ensure good end-of-life care. However, our findings show that they often hold contrasting views on ACP ranging from a consumer-orientated view that sees ACP as undertaken to define and communicate their care preferences; to a care-orientated view that sees ACP as discussions led by health professionals in order to gain an understanding of patients' values and wishes in order to provide better care. What are the implications for practitioners? Our findings highlight significant differences in how ACP is conceptualised in Australia. This can cause confusion and conflict, leading to reduced effectiveness of ACP. A shared conceptualisation and agreement on purpose is needed to ensure a successful implementation of ACP in Australia. 2011 AHHA.