Objective: Implantable cardioverter defibrillators can treat life-threatening arrhythmias, but may negatively influence the last phase of life if not deactivated. Advance care planning conversations can prepare patients for future decision-making about implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation. This study aimed at gaining insight in the experiences of patients with advance care planning conversations about implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation. Methods: In this qualitative study, we held five focus groups with 41 patients in total. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed. Transcripts were analysed thematically, using the constant comparative method, whereby themes emerging from the data are compared with previously emerged themes. Results: Most patients could imagine deciding to have their implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivated, for instance because the benefits of an active device no longer outweigh the harm of unwanted shocks, when having another life-limiting illness, or when relatives would think this would be in their best interest. Some patients expressed a need for advance care planning conversations with a healthcare professional about deactivation, but few had had these. Others did not, saying they solely focused on living. Some patients were hesitant to record their preferences about deactivation in advance care directives, because they were unsure whether their current preferences would reflect future preferences. Conclusions: Although patients expressed a need for more information, advance care planning conversations about implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation seemed to be uncommon. Deactivation should be more frequently addressed by healthcare professionals, tailored to the disease stage of the patient and readiness to discuss this topic.

Additional Metadata
Keywords advance care planning, decision making, defibrillators, implantable, focus groups, qualitative research, terminal care, withholding treatment
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2019-315721, hdl.handle.net/1765/119905
Journal Heart
Stoevelaar, R. (Rik), Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, A, Van Driel, A.G. (Anne Geert), van Bruchem-Visser, R.L, Theuns, D.A.M.J, Bhagwandien, R.E, … Rietjens, J.A.C. (2019). Implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation and advance care planning: A focus group study. Heart. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2019-315721