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Advance care planning: A systematic review of randomised controlled trials conducted with older adults

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Weathers E1, O’Caoimh R2, Cornally N3, Fitzgerald C4, Kearns T4, Coffey A5, Daly E4, O’Sullivan R4, McGlade C4, Molloy DW4.Author information


Advance care planning (ACP), involving discussions between patients, families and healthcare professionals on future healthcare decisions, in advance of anticipated impairment in decision-making capacity, improves satisfaction and end-of-life care while respecting patient autonomy. It usually results in the creation of a written advanced care directive (ACD). This systematic review examines the impact of ACP on several outcomes (including symptom management, quality of care and healthcare utilisation) in older adults (>65years) across all healthcare settings. Nine randomised controlled trials (RCTs) were identified by searches of the CINAHL, PubMed and Cochrane databases. A total of 3646 older adults were included (range 72-88 years). Seven studies were conducted with community dwellers and the other two RCTs were conducted in nursing homes. Most studies did not implement a standardised ACD, or measure the impact on quality of end-of-life care or on the death and dying experience. All studies had some risk of bias, with most scoring poorly on the Oxford Quality Scale. While ACP interventions are well received by older adults and generally have positive effects on outcomes, this review highlights the need for well-designed RCTs that examine the economic impact of ACP and its effect on quality of care in nursing homes and other sectors.

Resource: Maturitas. 2016 Sep;91:101-9.