Trust-based relations and a holistic approach in advance care planning

Tilburgs, B. et al. | The importance of trust-based relations and a holistic approach in advance care planning with people with dementia in primary care: a qualitative study | BMC Geriatrics (2018) 18:184 

ACP enables individuals to define and discuss goals and preferences for future medical treatment and care with family and healthcare providers, and to record these goals and preferences if appropriate. Because general practitioners (GPs) often have long-lasting relationships with people with dementia, GPs seem most suited to initiate ACP. However, ACP with people with dementia in primary care is uncommon. Although several barriers and facilitators to ACP with people with dementia have already been identified in earlier research, evidence gaps still exist. We therefore aimed to further explore barriers and facilitators for ACP with community-dwelling people with dementia.

A qualitative design, involving all stakeholders in the care for community-dwelling people with dementia, was used. We conducted semi-structured interviews with community dwelling people with dementia and their family caregivers, semi structured interviews by telephone with GPs and a focus group meeting with practice nurses and case managers. Content analysis was used to define codes, categories and themes.

Ten face to face interviews, 10 interviews by telephone and one focus group interview were conducted. From this data, three themes were derived: development of a trust-based relationship, characteristics of an ACP conversation and the primary care setting.

ACP is facilitated by a therapeutic relationship between the person with dementia/family caregiver and the GP built on trust, preferably in the context of home visits. Addressing not only medical but also non-medical issues soon after the dementia diagnosis is given is an important facilitator during conversation. Key barriers were: the wish of some participants to postpone ACP until problems arise, GPs’ time restraints, concerns about the documentation of ACP outcomes and concerns about the availability of these outcomes to other healthcare providers.

ACP is facilitated by an open relationship based on trust between the GP, the person with dementia and his/her family caregiver, in which both medical and non-medical issues are addressed. GPs’ availability and time restraints are barriers to ACP. Transferring ACP tasks to case managers or practice nurses may contribute to overcoming these barriers.

Full document at BMC Geriatrics

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