Implementing Advance Care Planning in Palliative and End of Life Care: A Scoping Review of Community Nursing Perspectives

Katie Wilkin, Mei Lan Fang, Judith Sixsmith (Lead / Corresponding author)

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Background: Advance Care Planning (ACP) is a priority within palliative care service provision. Nurses working in the community occupy an opportune role to engage with families and patients in ACP. Carers and family members of palliative patients often find ACP discussions difficult to initiate. However, community nurses caring for palliative patients can encourage these discussions, utilising the rapport and relationships they have already built with patients and families. Despite this potential, implementation barriers and facilitators continue to exist. To date, no research synthesis has captured the challenges community nurses face when implementing ACP, nor the facilitators of community nurse-led ACP. Considering this, the review question of: 'What factors contribute to or hinder ACP discussion for nurses when providing care to palliative patients?’ was explored.

Method: To capture challenges and facilitators, a global qualitative scoping review was undertaken in June 2023. The Arksey and O’Malley framework for scoping reviews guided the review methodology. Six databases were searched identifying 333 records: CINAHL (16), MEDLINE (45), PUBMED (195), EMBASE (30), BJOCN (15), IJOPN (32). After de-duplication and title and abstract screening, 108 records remained. These were downloaded, hand searched (adding 5 articles) and subject to a full read. 98 were rejected, leaving a selected dataset of 15 articles. Data extracted into a data extraction chart were thematically analysed.

Results: Three key themes were generated: ‘Barriers to ACP’, ‘Facilitators of ACP’ and ‘Understanding of professional role and duty’. Key barriers were – lack of confidence, competence, role ambiguity and prognostic uncertainty. Key facilitators concerned the pertinence of the patient-practitioner relationship enabling ACP amongst nurses who had both competence and experience in ACP and/or palliative care (e.g., palliative care training). Lastly, nurses understood ACP to be part of their role, however, met challenges understanding the law surrounding this and its application processes.

Conclusions: This review suggests that community nurses' experience and competence are associated with the effective implementation of ACP with palliative patients. Future research is needed to develop interventions to promote ACP uptake in community settings, enable confidence building for community nurses and support higher standards of palliative care via the implementation of ACP.
Original languageEnglish
Article number294
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2024


  • Advance Care Planning
  • Palliative and End of Life Care
  • Nurse
  • Primary Care
  • Education
  • Confidence
  • Relationships
  • Patient
  • Community nurse
  • Palliative and end of life care
  • Advance care planning
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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