Nurse-led normalised advance care planning service in hospital and community health settings: a qualitative study

BMC Palliat Care. 2021 Sep 9;20(1):139. doi: 10.1186/s12904-021-00835-x.


Background: Advance Care Planning (ACP) by Registered Nurses (RNs) has been emerging. However, there is limited understanding about what RNs experience as they incorporate ACP into their practice. This study aimed to elicit the experiences of ACP RNs with the implementation of a normalised ACP (NACP) service in hospital and community care settings.

Methods: A qualitative descriptive study invited four ACP RNs who delivered a nurse-led NACP for a 6 months duration at two hospital and two community health care settings in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The experiences of the ACP RNs were captured through a semi-structured interview and weekly debriefing meetings. The interview recordings were transcribed verbatim and the minutes of weekly debriefing meetings were utilized. Data were analysed by two independent researchers using thematic analysis with the Normalisation Process Theory (NPT) as a methodological framework.

Findings: The ACP RNs were females with a mean age of 43 years old. Their nursing experiences ranged 2 to 25 years but they had minimal experiences with ACP and had not attended any education about ACP previously. The following four themes were identified in the experiences of the ACP RNs; 1) Embracing NACP service; 2) Enablers and barriers related to patients and health professionals; 3) Enablers and barriers related to ACP RNs; and 4) What it means to be an ACP RN.

Conclusion: The introduction of a NACP service into existing clinical systems is complex. The study demonstrated the capacity of RNs to engage in ACP processes, and their willingness to deliver an NACP service with a raft of locally specific enablers and barriers.

Trial registration: The study was retrospectively registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (Trial ID: ACTRN12618001627246 ). The URL of the trial registry record.

Keywords: Advance care directives; Advance care planning; Chronic diseases; Community; Health service; Hospital; Nurses.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Australia
  • Female
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Nurse's Role
  • Public Health*