Support from healthcare professionals in empowering family carers to discuss advance care planning: A population-based survey

Isabel Vandenbogaerde, Joachim Cohen, Peter Hudson, Chantal Van Audehove, Luc Deliens, Aline De Vleminck

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BACKGROUND: Family carers have a prominent role in end-of-life care for seriously ill persons. However, most of the Advance Care Planning literature is focused on the role of healthcare professionals.

AIMS: To investigate (1) what proportion of family carers discussed advance care planning with their relative and associated socio-demographic and clinical characteristics (2) what proportion received support from healthcare professionals for these conversations, (3) what type of support they received and (4) to what extent the type of support received was considered sufficient.

DESIGN/PARTICIPANTS: Population-based cross-sectional survey in Belgium of bereaved family carers of persons with a serious chronic illness (N = 3000) who died 2-6 months before the sample was drawn, identified through three sickness funds. The survey explored support from healthcare professionals for family carers during the last 3 months of the patient's life.

RESULTS: Response rate was 55%. The proportion of family carers that engaged in an advance care planning conversation with their relative was 46.9%. Of these family carers, 78.1% received support from a healthcare professional, mostly by doing the advance care planning conversation together (53.8%). Of family carers receiving support from a healthcare professional, 57.4% deemed the support sufficient.

CONCLUSION: Many family carers engage in advance care planning conversations with their dying relative. Healthcare professionals often support them by performing the advance care planning conversations together. More insight into how family carers can be supported to conduct these advance care planning conversations, both with and without involvement of healthcare professionals, is necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2692163221135032
JournalPalliative Medicine
Early online date9 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Nov 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study is funded by the Flemish government agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT) as part of the INTEGRATE-project (SBO-IWT grant no. 140009).

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.

Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Family carers
  • advance care planning
  • cross-sectional survey
  • healthcare professionals
  • serious illness

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