Professional judgments about advance care planning with community-dwelling consumers

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Jan;43(1):10-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.03.023. Epub 2011 Jul 16.


Context: There is limited research on how community-based long-term care (CBLTC) providers' personal characteristics and attitudes affect their decisions to initiate advance care planning (ACP) conversations with consumers.

Objectives: To examine judgments by CBLTC providers as to whether a consumer was in need of ACP and to compare the relative influence of situational features of the consumer with the influence of personal characteristics of the CBLTC provider.

Methods: Factorial surveys with vignettes with randomly assigned situational features of a hypothetical consumer were obtained from 182 CBLTC providers at three Area Agencies on Aging located in the Midwestern U.S. Measures included the consumer's situational features, such as demographics, diagnosis, pain level, level of functioning, and caregiver involvement. Personal characteristics of the CBLTC provider included demographics, discipline, past experience with ACP, and attitudes toward ACP.

Results: Hierarchical linear models indicated that most variability in ACP decisions was the result of differences among CBLTC providers (64%) rather than consumers' situational features. Positive decisions to discuss ACP were associated with consumers who needed assistance with legal issues and had a cancer diagnosis; these variables explained 8% of the vignette level variance. Significant personal characteristics of the CBLTC provider included a nursing background, less direct contact with consumers, past experience with ACP, and positive attitudes toward ACP; these variables explained 41% of the person-level variance.

Conclusion: This study shows the lack of normative consensus about ACP and highlights the need for consistent educational programs regarding the role of the CBLTC provider in the ACP process.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning / organization & administration
  • Advance Care Planning / statistics & numerical data*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Decision Making*
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires