Interventions Guiding Advance Care Planning Conversations: A Systematic Review
Background: Advance care planning (ACP) is a communicative process of defining preferences for future medical care. Conversation guides support professionals to conduct ACP conversations, yet insight into essential components is limited. Objectives: To evaluate the content, rationale, and empirical evidence on the effect of ACP interventions based on conversation guides. Methods: MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, and CINAHL were searched from January 1, 1998, to February 23, 2018, to identify peer-reviewed articles describing or evaluating ACP interventions based on scripted conversation guides. A thematic analysis of the guides was performed. Data on intervention characteristics, underlying rationale, and empirical evidence were extracted by 2 authors independently using a predesigned form. Assessment of risk of bias and quality of reporting was performed using Cochrane tools and COREQ, respectively. Results: Eighty-two articles reporting on 34 unique interventions met the inclusion criteria. Analysis of the conversation guides revealed a framework for ACP conversations consisting of 4 phases: preparation, initiation, exploration, and action. Exploration of patient's perspectives on illness, living well, end-of-life (EOL) issues, and decision making formed the core part of the guides. Their design was often expert-based, without an underlying theoretical background. Empirical evidence on the effect of the interventions was based on heterogeneous outcome measures. Dyad congruence and preference documentation rates increased among intervention subjects in most studies. The studies showed varying effects on knowledge of ACP, decisional conflict, quality of communication, and preferences-concordant care. Qualitative research showed that participants appreciate the importance and benefits of ACP conversations, yet perceive them as difficult and emotional. Conclusion: ACP conversation guides address a diversity of themes regarding illness, EOL issues, and decision making. There is a focus on the exploration of patient's perspectives and preferences. Evidence on the translation of explorative information into specific treatment preferences and consequences for care as provided is limited.