Background Understanding both costs and consequences of ACP programs is important. Available economic analysis have typically reported the consequences but not the prevalence, frequency, duration and with whom ACP discussions take place.
Methods We conducted an economic analysis of ACP discussions alongside a trial evaluating ACP videos, across three clinical settings (cancer, heart and kidney disease) and 18 sites in Alberta, Canada. We administered a Health Services Inventory monthly for three months. Participants were asked to recall ACP discussions with professionals from healthcare, legal, financial and spiritual sectors.
Results 241 participants (36.1% female; average age, 66 ± 12.2 years) were interviewed at baseline with 95.0% follow-up over the three months. Participants across cancer (n=36), heart disease (n=24), and renal disease (n=40) settings had in total 100 ACP discussions with professionals from healthcare (n= 58), spiritual (n= 14), legal (n=19) and financial (n=9) sectors. The discussions averaged 20.4 minutes and resulted in completion of 16 Goals of Care Designation GCDs, 14 Personal Directives and 9 financial documents. Discussions mostly occurred outside home (n=82, 80.4%) and patients were almost always accompanied by a family member/friend (n=99, 97%).
Conclusion(s) Compensating professionals to engage in ACP discussions represents a substantial segment of ACP program cost. Patients and their family/friends also incur costs travelling to and taking time for appointments. Assessing cost-effectiveness of ACP requires program costs in addition to consequences. Patient engagement likewise benefits from understanding the nature and personal costs of these discussions. These data may help professionals advocate for commensurate compensation
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