Does Caregiver Participation in Advance Care Planning Using a Decision Support Tool Together With Patients Reduce Caregiver Strain, Burden and Anxiety Over Time? A Post-Hoc Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial

Bronson R. Kunzler, Andrew J. Foy, Benjamin Levi, Lauren Van Scoy, Erik B. Lehman, Theresa J. Smith, Michael J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: Surrogate decision makers experience significant amounts of anxiety, burden, and strain in their role as caregivers and decision makers for loved ones. Objectives: To investigate longitudinally whether surrogate decision makers engaging in ACP together with their loved one reduces perceived anxiety, burden, and strain felt by surrogate decision makers. Methods: Post-hoc analysis of a randomized controlled trial evaluating caregivers’ perceived self-efficacy to serve as surrogate decision makers. The trial employed a 2×2 study design of patient/caregiver dyads who engaged in advance care planning (ACP) using a standard living will form vs “Making Your Wishes Known” (MYWK), and having the patient engage in ACP alone vs together with the family caregiver. Surrogates completed validated survey instruments surveys longitudinally to compare levels of anxiety, burden, and strain. Results: 246 of 285 dyads completed the measures. No significant reductions in anxiety, burden, or strain were found longitudinally in surrogate decision makers using MYWK together with loved one’s vs other control groups. Increases in strain and anxiety were seen across all study groups and increases in burden across 2/4 study groups. Strain and burden increased most in the MYWK Together arm (▴ = +2.22 and ▴ = +1.91 respectively). Conclusion: Family caregivers who engaged in ACP together with patients using the decision support tool MYWK did not experience less strain, burden, or anxiety longitudinally compared to other study arms. These results may help inform the design of future studies and interventions that promote caregivers’ involvement in ACP interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)

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