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Dyadic advance care planning: systematic review of patient–caregiver interventions and effects


Introduction Family caregiver’s involvement in advance care planning (ACP) is essential to provide high-quality end-of-life (EOL) care and to ease the surrogate decision-making burden. However, no systematic review has focused on existing ACP interventions involving patients and their families.

Aim To systematically summarise current ACP interventions involving patients and their families.

Methods Five English and two Chinese databases were searched from inception to September 2022. The eligible studies were experimental studies describing original data. The Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools assessed the methodological quality. Narrative synthesis was conducted for data analysis.

Results In total, twenty-eight articles were included. Fifteen studies were randomised controlled trials, and the rest 13 studies were quasi-experimental studies. The data synthesis identified: (1) Key intervention components: strategies to promote ACP, ACP discussion and follow-up, as well as the role of family caregivers; (2) Effects on intended outcomes: interventions have shown benefit on completion of ACP actions, while inconsistent findings were found on the process outcomes and quality of EOL care. In addition, a logic model for patient–caregiver dyadic ACP was created, and the underlying mechanisms of action included well-preparation, open discussion and adequate support for plan/action.

Conclusions This review provides comprehensive evidence about patient–caregiver dyadic ACP, a promising intervention to better prepare for EOL communication and decision-making. A logic model has been mapped to give a preliminary indication for future implementation. More empirical studies are needed to improve this model and culturally adapt it in a real-world setting.

  • End of life care
  • Communication

Data availability statement

Data sharing not applicable as no datasets generated and/or analysed for this study.

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