Goals of Care Ambulatory Resident Education: Training Residents in Advance Care Planning Conversations in the Outpatient Setting

Stephen H Berns, Marianne Camargo, Diane E Meier, Jacqueline K Yuen
Journal of Palliative Medicine 2017, 20 (12): 1345-1351

BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) discussions often occur in the inpatient setting when patients are too ill to participate in decision making. Although the outpatient setting is the preferred time to begin these discussions, few physicians do so in practice. Many internal medicine (IM) residents report inadequate training as a barrier to having outpatient ACP discussions.

OBJECTIVE: To assess whether a novel curriculum entitled Goals of Care Ambulatory Resident Education (GOCARE) improved resident physicians' understanding of and preparedness for conducting ACP discussions in the outpatient setting.

DESIGN: The curriculum was delivered over four weekly three-hour small group sessions to IM residents. Each session included didactics, a demonstration of skills, and a simulated patient communication laboratory that emphasized deliberate practice.

SETTING/SUBJECTS: IM residents from an urban, academic ambulatory care practice.

MEASUREMENTS: Impact of the intervention was evaluated using a retrospective pre-post design. Residents completed surveys immediately after the course and six months later.

RESULTS: Forty-two residents participated in the curriculum and 95% completed the postcourse survey. Residents' self-rated level of preparedness increased for ACP discussions overall (4.0 pre vs. 5.2 post on 7-point Likert scale) and for communication steps involved in ACP (p < 0.001). Fifty-nine percent of participants completed the six-month follow-up survey. Residents' self-rated preparedness to engage in outpatient ACP discussions remained high (4.5 pre vs. 5.5 post at six months p < 0.001). Residents also reported increased use of ACP communication skills (p < 0.001) six months later.

CONCLUSIONS: The GOCARE curriculum provides an alternative model of communication training that can be integrated into residency training and improve residents' skills in outpatient ACP discussions.


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