Advance Directives and Communication Skills of Prehospital Physicians Involved in the Care of Cardiovascular Patients

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Advance directives (AD) were developed to respect patient autonomy. However, very few patients have AD, even in cases when major cardiovascular surgery is to follow. To understand the reasons behind the low prevalence of AD and to help decision making when patients are incompetent, it is necessary to focus on the impact of prehospital practitioners, who may contribute to an increase in AD by discussing them with patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate self-rated communication skills and the attitudes of physicians potentially involved in the care of cardiovascular patients toward AD.Self-administered questionnaires were sent to general practitioners, cardiologists, internists, and intensivists, including the Quality of Communication Score, divided into a General Communication score (QOCgen 6 items) and an End-of-life Communication score (QOCeol 7 items), as well as questions regarding opinions and practices in terms of AD.One hundred sixty-four responses were received. QOCgen (mean (±SD)): 9.0/10 (1.0); QOCeol: 7.2/10 (1.7). General practitioners most frequently start discussions about AD (74/149 [47%]) and are more prone to designate their own specialty (30/49 [61%], P < 0.0001). Overall, only 57/159 (36%) physicians designated their own specialty; 130/158 (82%) physicians ask potential cardiovascular patients if they have AD and 61/118 (52%) physicians who care for cardiovascular patients talk about AD with some of them.The characteristics of physicians who do not talk about AD with patients were those who did not personally have AD and those who work in private practices.One hundred thirty-three (83%) physicians rated the systematic mention of patients’ AD in the correspondence between physicians as good, while 114 (71%) at the patients’ first registration in the private practice.Prehospital physicians rated their communication skills as good, whereas end-of-life communication was rated much lower. Only half of those surveyed speak about AD with cardiovascular patients. The majority would prefer that physicians of another specialty, most frequently general practitioners, initiate conversation about AD. In order to increase prehospital AD incidence, efforts must be centered on improving practitioners’ communication skills regarding death, by providing trainings to allow physicians to feel more at ease when speaking about end-of-life issues.

    loading  Loading Related Articles