Abstract 352: Clinician Attitudes and Self-Reported Practices Regarding End of Life Care in Heart Failure
Background: Heart failure (HF) is a clinical syndrome with an overall poor prognosis, but the clinical trajectory is often unpredictable in individuals. There has been an impetus to promote iterative patient-provider discussions regarding preferences for end of life (EOL) care and advanced care planning. However, very little is known regarding provider preferences or their personal confidence addressing EOL care with their patients with HF. To address these gaps in knowledge, we surveyed clinicians at three practice sites in a large integrated health system.
Methods: Physicians, nurse practitioners (NP), and physician assistants (PA) at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota) and its surrounding health system were asked to participate in an electronic survey in October 2013. Clinicians surveyed included tertiary care HF specialists (Tertiary Care Cardiology), cardiologists and NP/PAs practicing in a community setting (Community Cardiology), and primary care clinicians (Primary Care).
Results: A total of 95 clinicians completed the survey (52.5% response rate), including 50 physicians and 45 NP/PAs. Clinicians reported discussing prognosis and EOL wishes when their patient’s health status was worsening, but only 12% reported annual discussions as advocated by the American Heart Association. In total 52% of providers reported one or more reasons that they hesitate to discuss EOL care with their patients, including provider discomfort (11%), perception of patient (21%) or family (12%) unreadiness to have the discussion, fear of destroying hope (9%), or a lack of time (8%). Tertiary Care (63%) and Community Cardiology (58%) clinicians were more likely to attribute responsibility for having EOL discussions to the HF cardiologist, while 66% of Primary Care providers felt it was their responsibility. Tertiary and Community Cardiology clinicians were more likely to have referred patients to Palliative Medicine within the last year than Primary Care (89% vs. 21%, p<0.001). Overall, 30% of those surveyed reported low or very low confidence levels in initiating prognosis or EOL discussions, enrolling patients in hospice, or providing EOL care, with lower confidence among those with fewer years of clinical experience. The majority of clinicians expressed a high level of interest in further skills acquisition on these topics.
Conclusion: There is tremendous variability in the way that clinicians view and approach advanced care discussions with their patients with HF; varying provider perception and lack of provider confidence may contribute. Despite this variability, most clinicians are interested in further development and skills acquisition. Addressing the learning needs of providers is an important next step toward enhancing the EOL care of patients with HF.
Author Disclosures: S.M. Dunlay: None. J.L. Foxen: None. T. Cole: None. M.A. Feely: None. A.R. Loth: None. J.J. Strand: None. K.M. Swetz: None. J.A. Wagner: None. M.M. Redfield: None.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.