Original Study| Volume 19, ISSUE 10, P879-883, October 2018

Perceptions of Family Decision-makers of Nursing Home Residents With Advanced Dementia Regarding the Quality of Communication Around End-of-Life Care



      (1) Compare family decision-makers' perceptions of quality of communication with nursing home (NH) staff (nurses and social workers) and clinicians (physicians and other advanced practitioners) for persons with advanced dementia; (2) determine the extent to which characteristics of NH residents and family decision-makers are associated with those perceptions.


      Secondary analysis of baseline data from a cluster randomized trial of the Goals of Care intervention.


      Twenty-two NHs in North Carolina.


      Family decision-makers of NH residents with advanced dementia (n = 302).


      During the baseline interviews, family decision-makers rated the quality of general communication and communication specific to end-of-life care using the Quality of Communication Questionnaire (QoC). QoC item scores ranged from 0 to 10, with higher scores indicating better quality of communication. Linear models were used to compare QoC by NH provider type, and to test for associations of QoC with resident and family characteristics.


      Family decision-makers rated the QoC with NH staff higher than NH clinicians, including average overall QoC scores (5.5 [1.7] vs 3.7 [3.0], P < .001), general communication subscale scores (8.4 [1.7] vs 5.6 [4.3], P < .001), and end-of-life communication subscale scores (3.0 [2.3] vs 2.0 [2.5], P < .001). Low scores reflected failure to communicate about many aspects of care, particularly end-of-life care. QoC scores were higher with later-stage dementia, but were not associated with the age, gender, race, relationship to the resident, or educational attainment of family decision-makers.


      Although family decision-makers for persons with advanced dementia rated quality communication with NH staff higher than that with clinicians, they reported poor quality end-of-life communication for both staff and clinicians. Clinicians simply did not perform many communication behaviors that contribute to high-quality end-of-life communication. These omissions suggest opportunities to clarify and improve interdisciplinary roles in end-of-life communication for residents with advanced dementia.


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