Publication Details

Fletcher, S., Sinclair, C., Rhee, J., Goh, D. & Auret, K. (2016). Rural health professionals' experiences in implementing advance care planning: A focus group study. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 22 (5), 423-427.


Advance care planning (ACP) is described as an ongoing discussion between a patient, their family and healthcare professionals (HCPs) to understand a patient's wishes for future health care. Legislation supporting ACP in Western Australia is relatively new and HCPs are still learning about the process and implementation. This study aimed to provide a rich description of rural health professionals' perceptions and experiences with ACP within the context of their professional role and to identify systemic issues and training needs. Ten focus groups were conducted throughout 2014 with a total of 55 rural participants including general practitioners (n≤15), general practice registrars (n≤6), practice nurses (n≤18), community nurses (n≤4) and hospital nurses (n≤12) in the south-western regions of Western Australia. Thematic analysis has identified the following themes regarding ACP: benefits to patients and families; professional roles in ACP; barriers and enablers; and systems for communicating ACP. HCPs have self-determined their roles in the ACP process, which currently leaves some components of the process unaccounted for, suggesting that collaboration between HCPs working together in a rural health setting and a standardised system for distributing these documents may assist with the implementation of ACP.



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