Objective: The barriers and enablers to the uptake of advance care plans has been well documented but more so in metropolitan health services. Rural and regional areas have their own challenges of higher rates of chronic illness and an aging population when considering end of life care. This study aimed to explore the creation of advance care plans in a regional location that has service links to smaller health services. Design: A qualitative study involving thematic analysis of interview data. Setting: A regional local government area in Victoria, Australia. Participants: Twelve representatives from rural and regional health services, including hospital, private practice and community organisation staff. Main outcome measures: Barriers and enablers to the creation of advance care planning documents. Results: The data analysis yielded two main identified themes around Plan creation and communication of patient wishes: system and societal challenges to the creation and communication in advance care planning; and rural communities' expectation of the health service-patient relationship and advance care planning. Conclusion: Although barriers to advance care planning are well known, rural and regional practitioners need to be aware of the effect long-term continuity of care from health practitioners and connections with health services has on advance care plan creation, and whether the paucity of written Plans effects end-of-life care. A potential solution was seen in the pending linkages to the national electronic patient record.
- doctor-patient relationships
- rural and regional healthcare