A Literature Review of Possible Barriers and Knowledge Gaps of General Practitioners in Implementing Advance Care Planning in Ireland: Experience from Other Countries





General Practitioners, General practice, Advance care planning, Advance care, End of life care, Terminal care


Background: An Advance Care Plan (ACP) is a decision-making process concerning end-of-life care that embodies a patient’s values and preferences, for a time when patients are unable to make such choices on their own. ACPs have been employed into medical practices worldwide; however, they remain largely uncompleted by general practitioners (GPs), regardless of their benefits to patients and their families with respect to end of life (EOL) care. Furthermore, ACPs will soon be implemented into clinician practices across Ireland, as part of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015. This review aims to explore the literature to examine challenges GPs may face in employing ACPs into clinical practice.

Methods: An electronic search was performed through three databases: PubMed, MEDLINE, and CINAHL Plus, through which a total of eleven studies met the selection criteria. Additionally, three studies were provided by experts in the field. Thus, a total of fourteen studies were condensed and critically appraised through CASP (Critical Appraisal Skills Program), which concluded that the quality of the studies was high.

Conclusion: Through this review, knowledge gaps and barriers for GPs regarding ACPs were identified. Barriers for implementing ACPs into practice were categorized into three major themes: barriers for the GPs, barriers in the healthcare system, and barriers regarding the patient. These included insufficient time, complexity of the ACP documents themselves, uncertainty of the disease prognosis, and the ultimate fear of inducing anxiety and loss of hope in patients.


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How to Cite

Somal, K., & Foley, T. (2021). A Literature Review of Possible Barriers and Knowledge Gaps of General Practitioners in Implementing Advance Care Planning in Ireland: Experience from Other Countries. International Journal of Medical Students, 9(2), 145–156. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.567