BACKGROUND: Conducting a conversation about wishes for treatment at end of life (EOL) has been shown to improve EOL care for patients and relatives. Still, only a minority of physicians conduct the conversation, which might lead to unwanted interventions and treatments.
OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this survey was to examine which factors facilitate and hinder physicians across a wide range of health care facilities to initiate the conversation about wishes for treatment at EOL.
DESIGN: A questionnaire survey based on a Delphi-developed questionnaire.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: The questionnaire was sent to both hospital physicians and general practitioners (GPs) in a Danish region.
RESULTS: More than 3000 physicians were invited to participate in the survey. Of these, 782 responded, 622 working at a hospital department, and 160 from general practice clinics. Results showed that senior physicians, GPs, and physicians working in a medical department feel best equipped to conduct the conversation. Moreover, senior physicians pointed to their experience as physicians as being of great importance for conducting the conversation, whereas junior physicians found training in conducting the conversation as an important factor.
CONCLUSION: Our study indicates that different factors depending on the health care setting and the seniority of the physician facilitate or hinder physicians from conducting the conversation about wishes for treatment at EOL. Being aware of these differences and making a concerted effort depending on setting and seniority might help implement and conduct the conversation.