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Missed opportunities for advance care planning communication during outpatient clinic visits

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Title: Missed opportunities for advance care planning communication during outpatient clinic visits
Author(s): Ahluwalia, Sangeeta; Levin, Jennifer; Lorenz, Karl; Gordon, Howard
Subject(s): Qualitative research advance care planning heart failure physician-patient communication
Abstract: Background: Early provider-patient communication about future care is critical for patients with heart failure (HF); however, advance care planning (ACP) discussions are often avoided or occur too late to usefully inform care over the course of the disease. Objective: To identify opportunities for physicians to engage in ACP discussions and to characterize physicians’ responses to these opportunities. Design: Qualitative study of audio-recorded outpatient clinic visits. Participants: 52 patients > 65 years recently hospitalized for HF with one or more post-discharge follow-up outpatient visits, and their physicians (n=44), at two Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Approach: Using content analysis methods, transcripts of outpatient follow-up visits were analyzed and coded for 1) patient statements pertaining to their future health or their future physical, psychosocial and spiritual/existential care needs, and 2) subsequent physician responses to patient statements, using an iterative consensus-based coding process. Results: In 13 of 71 consultations, patients expressed concerns, questions, and thoughts regarding their future care that gave providers opportunities to engage in an ACP discussion. The majority of these opportunities (84%) were missed by physicians. Instead, physicians responded by terminating the conversation, hedging their responses, denying the patient’s expressed emotion, or inadequately acknowledging the sentiment underlying the patient’s statement. Conclusions: Physicians often missed the opportunity to engage in ACP despite openers patients provided that could have prompted such discussions. Communication training efforts should focus on helping physicians identify patient openers and providing a toolbox to encourage appropriate physician responses; in order to successfully leverage opportunities to engage in ACP discussions.
Issue Date: 2012-04
Publisher: Springer Verlag
Citation Info: Ahluwalia, S. C., Levin, J. R., Lorenz, K. A., & Gordon, H. S. 2012. Missed Opportunities for Advance Care Planning Communication During Outpatient Clinic Visits. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 27(4): 445-451. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1917-0
Type: Article
Description: © 2012 by Springer Verlag, Journal of General Internal Medicine. The original publication is available at DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1917-0
ISSN: 0884-8734DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1917-0
Sponsor: Dr. Ahluwalia is supported by an Office of Academic Affiliation’s VA Associated Health Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at the VA Greater Los Angeles HSR&D Center of Excellence. This work is supported in part by grant ECV-02-254 from VA Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D), Department of Veterans Affairs.
Date Available in INDIGO: 2012-08-15

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