Advance care planning in cancer: Patient preferences for personnel and timing

Boateng Kubi, Alexandra C. Istl, Kimberley T. Lee, Alison Conca-Cheng, Fabian M. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


PURPOSE Opportunities for advance care planning (ACP) discussions continue to be missed despite the demonstrated benefit of such conversations. This is in part because of a poor understanding of patient preferences. We aimed to determine oncology patients' preferences surrounding ACP with a focus on the choice of which health care providers to have the conversation with and the timing of conversations. METHODS A cross-sectional 19-question survey of surgical and medical oncology patients in a tertiary care hospital was conducted that assessed knowledge, experience, and preferences surrounding ACP. Quantitative variables were reported with descriptive statistics, and a coding structure was developed to analyze qualitative data. RESULTS Two hundred patients were surveyed. Only 24% of patients reported previously having ACP discussions with their physicians despite 82.5% reporting a wish to do so. Patients felt that these discussions were a priority for them (to alleviate familial guilt, maintain control, and prevent others' values from guiding end-of-life care), but they reported that previous experiences with ACP had been neither comprehensive nor effective. Most patients (43.5%) preferred to have ACP discussions with their primary care providers (PCPs) compared with 7% preferring their surgeon and 5.5% preferring their oncologist. Trust and familiarity with PCPs arose as the dominant theme underlying this selection. Most patients (94%) preferred to have ACP discussions early, with 45% wishing such a discussion had been initiated before their cancer diagnosis. CONCLUSION Patients with cancer prefer to have ACP discussions with their PCPs and prefer to do so early in their disease course.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E875-E883
JournalJCO Oncology Practice
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Health Policy
  • Oncology(nursing)


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