Provider Tools for Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care Discussions: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Background:

Advance care planning and goals of care discussions involve the exploration of what is most important to a person, including their values and beliefs in preparation for health-care decision-making. Advance care planning conversations focus on planning for future health care, ensuring that an incapable person’s wishes are known and can guide the person’s substitute decision maker for future decision-making. Goals of care discussions focus on preparing for current decision-making by ensuring the person’s goals guide this process.

Aim:

To provide evidence regarding tools and/or practices available for use by health-care providers to effectively facilitate advance care planning conversations and/or goals of care discussions.

Data sources:

A systematic review was conducted focusing on guidelines, randomized trials, comparative studies, and noncomparative studies. Databases searched included MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the proceedings of the International Advance Care Planning Conference and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Palliative Care Symposium.

Conclusions:

Although several studies report positive findings, there is a lack of consistent patient outcome evidence to support any one clinical tool for use in advance care planning or goals of care discussions. Effective advance care planning conversations at both the population and the individual level require provider education and communication skill development, standardized and accessible documentation, quality improvement initiatives, and system-wide coordination to impact the population level. There is a need for research focused on goals of care discussions, to clarify the purpose and expected outcomes of these discussions, and to clearly differentiate goals of care from advance care planning.

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