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Healthcare providers’ perception of advance care planning for patients with critical illnesses in acute-care hospitals: a cross-sectional study

, Yuki Yonekura, Kazuhiro Nakayama
Published: 7 January 2022

Abstract: Background: In acute-care hospitals, patients treated in an ICU for surgical reasons or sudden deterioration are treated in an outpatient ward, ICU, and other multiple departments. It is unclear how healthcare providers are initiating advance care planning (ACP) for such patients and assisting them with it. The purpose of this study is to clarify healthcare providers’ perceptions of the ACP support provided to patients receiving critical care in acute-care hospitals. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using questionnaires. In this study, 400 acute-care hospitals with ICUs in Japan were randomly selected, and 1490 subjects, including intensivists, surgeons, ICU nurses, surgical floor nurses, and surgical outpatient nurses, participated. Survey items examined whether ICU patients received ACP support, the participants’ degree of confidence in providing ACP support, the patients’ treatment preferences, and the decision-making process, and whether any discussion was conducted on change of values. Results: Responses were obtained from 598 participants from 157 hospitals, 41.4% of which reportedly supported ACP provision to ICU patients. The subjects with the highest level of ACP understanding were surgeons (45.8%), and differences in understanding were observed across specialties (P< 0.001). Among the respondents, physicians and nurses expressed high levels of confidence in providing ACP support to patients requiring critical care. However, 15.2% of all the subjects mentioned that they would not attempt to resuscitate the patients. In addition, 25.7% of the participants handed over patients’ values to other departments or hospitals, whereas 25.3% handed over the decision-making process. Conclusions: Among the participating hospitals, 40% provided ACP support to patients receiving critical care. The low number is possibly because support providers lack understanding of the content of patients’ ACP or about how to support and use ACP. Second, it is sometimes too late to start providing ACP support after ICU admission. Third, healthcare providers differ in their perception of ACP, widely considered an ambiguous concept. Finally, in acute-care hospitals with different healthcare settings, it is necessary to confirm and integrate the changes in feelings and thoughts of patients.
Keywords: Acute-care hospital / Advance care planning / Critical care / Intensive care unit / Advance directives

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