"Gives peace of mind" - Relatives' perspectives of end-of-life conversations

Mette A. Smith*, Anne C. Brøchner, Helene K. Nedergaard, Hanne I. Jensen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives Planning for end-of-life (EOL) and future treatment and care through advance care planning (ACP) is being increasingly implemented in different healthcare settings, and interest in ACP is growing. Several studies have emphasized the importance of relatives participating in conversations about wishes for EOL and being included in the process. Likewise, research has highlighted how relatives can be a valuable resource in an emergency setting. Although relatives have a significant role, few studies have investigated their perspectives of ACP and EOL conversations. This study explores relatives' experiences of the benefits and disadvantages of having conversations about wishes for EOL treatment. Methods Semi-structured telephone interviews were held with 29 relatives who had participated in a conversation about EOL wishes with a patient and physician 2 years prior in a variety of Danish healthcare settings. The relatives were interviewed between September 2020 and June 2022. Content analysis was performed on the qualitative data. Results The interviews revealed two themes: "gives peace of mind"and "enables more openness and common understanding of EOL."Relatives found that conversations about EOL could help assure that patients were heard and enhance their autonomy. These conversations relieved the relatives of responsibility by clarifying or confirming the patients' wishes, and they also made the relatives reflect on their own wishes for EOL. Moreover, they helped patients and relatives address other issues regarding EOL and made wishes more visible across settings. Significance of results The results indicate that conducting conversations about wishes for EOL treatment and having relatives participate in those conversations were perceived as beneficial for both relatives and patients. Involving relatives in ACP should be prioritized by physicians and healthcare personnel when holding conversations about EOL.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPalliative & Supportive Care
ISSN1478-9515
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20. Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Keywords

  • advance care directives
  • End-of-life conversations
  • relatives
  • wishes for treatment

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