Advance Care Planning: identifying system-specific barriers and facilitators

N.A. Hagen, J. Howlett, N.C. Sharma, P. Biondo, J. Holroyd-Leduc, K. Fassbender, J. Simon



Advance care planning (acp) is an important process in health care today. How to prospectively identify potential local barriers and facilitators to uptake of acp across a complex, multi-sector, publicly funded health care system and how to develop specific mitigating strategies have not been well characterized.


We surveyed a convenience sample of clinical and administrative health care opinion leaders across the province of Alberta to characterize system-specific barriers and facilitators to uptake of acp. The survey was based on published literature about the barriers to and facilitators of acp and on the Michie Theoretical Domains Framework.


Of 88 surveys, 51 (58%) were returned. The survey identified system-specific barriers that could challenge uptake of acp. The factors were categorized into four main domains. Three examples of individual system-specific barriers were “insufficient public engagement and misunderstanding,” “conflict among different provincial health service initiatives,” and “lack of infrastructure.” Local system-specific barriers and facilitators were subsequently explored through a semi-structured informal discussion group involving key informants. The group identified approaches to mitigate specific barriers.


Uptake of acp is a priority for many health care systems, but bringing about change in multi-sector health care systems is complex. Identifying system- specific barriers and facilitators to the uptake of innovation are important elements of successful knowledge translation. We developed and successfully used a simple and inexpensive process to identify local system-specific barriers and enablers to uptake of acp, and to identify specific mitigating strategies.


Advance care planning; goals of care designation; knowledge translation

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)