Looking to Reduce Stress? Try Advance Care Planning

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    By Sara Heath

    Early interventions and patient-centered advance care planning communication can improve patient-reported outcomes and quality of life for individuals with a serious illness, according to researchers from Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

    Advance care planning, or communications about patient values, needs, and goals when nearing the end of life, is a key priority in driving positive patient experiences. These discussions between patient and provider increase the likelihood that a patient will receive care that aligns with her personal values and her preferred quality of life.

    But these communications often fall by the wayside. Doctors may not feel comfortable engaging in advance care planning, and in many cases lack the resources to improve in this area.

    In this latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, palliative care researchers highlight the efficacy of one advance care planning guide that can improve a patient’s quality of life.

    “We know how beneficial patient-centered conversations are, and our goal is to ensure that they happen for all patients, earlier in the course of illness and focus on what matters most to the patients,” said study author Rachelle Bernacki, MD, MS, associate director of the Serious Illness Care program and a palliative care doctor at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

    “These results are exciting because they show us that more, better and earlier conversations are possible and they can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in our most vulnerable patients,” Bernacki said.

    The researchers introduced the Serious Illness Care Guide to 91 doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants treating 278 patients. The guide trains clinicians in how to carry out advance care planning conversations with patients.


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    The guide specifically outlines how to assess patient understanding of prognosis, patient values and personal goals, fears and sources of strength, capabilities that are essential to good quality of life, and the types of treatments patients are willing to endure for more time.

    Click to read the rest of “Advance Care Planning Improves Quality of Life, Reduces Anxiety” »



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