Advance Care Planning Practices in the Nursing Home Setting: A Secondary Analysis

Bridget L. Laging, Rhonda Nay, Michael Bauer, Rohan Laging, Katie Walker, Amanda Kenny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Background and Objectives: Advance care planning is intended to support residents' preferences regarding health decisions, even when they can no longer participate. Little is known about the power discourses influencing how residents, family members, and health care workers engage in advance care planning and how advance care directives are used if a conflict arises. A large critical ethnographic study was conducted exploring decision making when a resident's health deteriorates in the nursing home setting. Advance care planning practices were not the focus of the original study, but the richness of the data warranted further exploration. A new research question was developed to inform a secondary analysis: How does advance care planning influence the relationship between resident values and clinical expertise when determining a direction of care at the time of a resident deterioration? Research Design and Methods: A secondary analysis of data from an ethnographic study involving 184 h of participatory observation, 40 semistructured interviews and advance care planning policies, and document review undertaken in two nursing homes in Melbourne, Australia. Results: Advance care planning may result in inaccurate documentation of residents' preferences and devalue clinical decision making and communication with residents and family members at the time of deterioration. Discussion and Implications: Advance care planning may contribute toward a reductionist approach to decision making. There is an urgent need for the development of evidence-based policy and legislation to support residents, families, and health care workers to make appropriate decisions, including withholding invasive treatment when a resident deteriorates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1307-1316
Number of pages10
JournalThe Gerontologist
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • Aged care
  • Decision making
  • Hospitalization
  • Shared decision making
  • Withholding treatment

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