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‘Not yet’ and ‘Just ask’: barriers and facilitators to advance care planning—a qualitative descriptive study of the perspectives of seriously ill, older patients and their families
  1. Jessica Simon1,
  2. Pat Porterfield2,
  3. Shelley Raffin Bouchal3 and
  4. Daren Heyland4,5
  1. 1Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Oncology and Department of Internal Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2School of Nursing, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  3. 3Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  4. 4Clinical Evaluation Research Unit, Department of Medicine, Kingston General Hospital, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  5. 5Departments of Community Health and Epidemiology and Medicine, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jessica Simon, Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Oncology, University of Calgary, Room 710 South Tower, Foothills Medical Centre, 1403 29 St NW, Calgary, AB T2N 2T9, Canada; jessica.simon{at}


Objectives To explore seriously ill, older hospitalised patients’ and their family members’ perspectives on the barriers and facilitators of advance care planning (ACP).

Methods We used qualitative descriptive study methodology to analyse data from an interviewer administered, questionnaire-based, Canadian multicentre, prospective study of this population.

Results Three main categories described these barriers and facilitators: (1) person (beliefs, attitudes, experiences, health status), (2) access (to doctors and healthcare providers, information, tools and infrastructure to communicate ACP preferences) and (3) the interaction with the doctor (who and how initiated, location, timing, quality of communication, relationship with doctor).

Conclusions Based on the findings, we suggest strategies for both healthcare systems and individual healthcare providers to improve the quality and quantity of ACP with this population. These include assessing readiness for participation in ACP and personalising relevance of ACP to each individual, routinely offering scheduled family meetings for exploring a person's own goals and sharing information, ensuring systems and policies are in place to access previous ACP documentation and ensuring doctors’ education includes ACP communication skills.

  • Advance Care Planning
  • Qualitative Research
  • Communication
  • Critical Illness
  • Goals Of Care
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