Is Primary Care Physician Involvement Associated with Earlier Advance Care Planning? A Study of Patients in an Academic Primary Care Setting

Dylan R. Sherry, Laura E. Dodge, Mary Buss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Advance care planning (ACP) is important to improving end-of-life care. Few studies have examined the impact of primary care physician (PCP) involvement in ACP. Objectives: To determine whether complete ACP, defined as health care proxy (HCP), provider orders for life-sustaining treatment (POLST), and documented goals-of-care (GOC) conversations, would occur earlier when the PCP was involved in POLST and/or GOC conversations. Design: Charts of deceased patients from 2015 to 2017 in a U.S. academic primary care practice were reviewed. Demographic factors, mortality risk scores, palliative care involvement, and visits within the last year of life to PCPs and specialists were collected. Poisson models with robust variance estimators were used to estimate the likelihood of PCP involvement being associated with earlier complete ACP after adjusting for confounders and accounting for clustering by PCP. Due to high rates of HCP documentation at the institution, 10 patients without HCP were excluded from the review. Results: Of 403 decreased patients, 71 (18%) met criteria for complete ACP and 214 (53%) had HCP only; the remaining 118 patients had partial (2/3 components) ACP. Of the 71 patients with complete ACP, 40.1% had ACP earlier than three months of death (early) and 59.2% had ACP within three months of death (late). PCP involvement was associated with early ACP compared with late ACP and HCP only for both PCP completion of the POLST (risk ratio [RR]: 4.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.3-17.1) and for PCP documentation of GOC conversation (RR: 4.6; 95% CI: 1.2-17.1) after adjustment for clustering by PCP and other relevant variables. Conclusion: This retrospective cohort study suggests that PCP involvement in ACP correlates with earlier completion. This finding highlights the importance of educating and encouraging PCPs on completing ACP with their patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

Keywords

  • advance care planning
  • goals of care
  • primary care

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