The Use of Advance Directives in Specialized Care Units: A Focus Group Study With Healthcare Professionals in Madrid

Abstract

Eight focus groups were conducted in four public hospitals in Madrid to explore healthcare professionals’ perceptions of advance directives (ADs) in order to improve the understanding of their lack of success among physicians and patients. A purposive sample of sixty healthcare professionals discussed ADs and reasons for their infrequent use. Three main themes were identified: perceptions about their meaning, appraisals of their use in clinical practice, and decision-making about them. Healthcare professionals perceived a lack of clarity about their definition and implementation. There is insufficient awareness of their efficacy in improving the quality of clinical relationships and decision-making, and they are often perceived only as a bureaucratic procedure. Advance directives are not integrated in the clinical practice of Madrid’s healthcare specialist services because their application is exceedingly complex, because of insufficient education about them (for both professionals and citizens), and because of lack of procedural clarity. Consequently, healthcare professionals are not aware of how ADs could improve clinical decision-making, of when and for whom their use is appropriate, and of who has responsibility for providing ADs-related information to patients. These circumstances contribute to patients’ lack of interest in completing these documents and to physicians’ sceptical views about their usefulness.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Basic Law 41/2002 of 14 November, governing the autonomy of the patient and rights and obligations with regard to clinical information and documentation

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Correspondence to Benjamín Herreros.

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Herreros, B., Monforte, M.J., Molina, J. et al. The Use of Advance Directives in Specialized Care Units: A Focus Group Study With Healthcare Professionals in Madrid. Bioethical Inquiry 17, 395–405 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-020-09991-w

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Keywords

  • Advance directives
  • Living will
  • Advanced care planning
  • Shared decision-making