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Background Advance care planning (ACP) can improve the quality of life of patients suffering from heart failure (HF). However, primary care healthcare professionals (HCPs) find ACP difficult to engage with and patient care remains suboptimal. Aim To explore the views of primary care HCPs on how to improve their engagement with ACP in HF. Design and setting A qualitative interview study with GPs and primary care nurses in England. Method Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 24 primary care HCPs. Data were analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Results Three main themes were constructed from the data: ACP as integral to holistic care in HF; potentially limiting factors to the doctor-patient relationship; and approaches to improve professional performance. Many HCPs saw the benefits of ACP as synonymous with providing holistic care and improving patients' quality of life. However, some feared that initiating ACP could irrevocably damage their doctor-patient relationship. Their own fear of death and dying, a lack of disease-specific communication skills, and uncertainty about the right timing were significant barriers to ACP. To optimise their engagement with ACP in HF, HCPs recommended better clinician-patient dialogue through question prompts, enhanced shared decision-making approaches, synchronising ACP across medical specialties, and disease-specific training. Conclusion GPs and primary care nurses are vital to deliver ACP for patients suffering from HF. HCPs highlighted important areas to improve their practice and the urgent need for investigations into better clinician-patient engagement with ACP.

Original publication




Journal article


British Journal of General Practice

Publication Date





E555 - E564