Advance Care Planning in Dutch Nursing Homes During the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bastiaan P H Ter Brugge, Vera A van Atteveld, Nienke Fleuren, Margo H Douma, Mieke B van der Ploeg, Jelle E Hoeksma, Martin Smalbrugge, Eefje M Sizoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To explore how physicians in Dutch nursing homes practiced advance care planning (ACP) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to explore whether and how ACP changed during the first wave of the pandemic.

DESIGN: Qualitative analysis of an online, mainly open-ended questionnaire on ACP among physicians working in nursing homes in the Netherlands during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Physicians in Dutch nursing homes.

METHODS: Respondents were asked to describe a recent case in which they had a discussion on anticipatory medical care decisions and to indicate whether ACP was influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic in that specific case and in general. Answers were independently coded and a codebook was compiled in which the codes were ordered by themes that emerged from the data.

RESULTS: A total of 129 questionnaires were filled out. Saturation was reached after analyzing 60 questionnaires. Four main themes evolved after coding the questionnaires: reasons for ACP discussion, discussing ACP, topics discussed in ACP, and decision making in ACP. COVID-19-specific changes in ACP indicated by respondents included (1) COVID-19 infection as a reason for initiating ACP, (2) a higher frequency of ACP discussions, (3) less face-to-face contact with surrogate decision makers, and (4) intensive care unit admission as an additional topic in anticipatory medical decision making.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: ACP in Dutch nursing homes has changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining frequent and informal contact with surrogate decision makers fosters mutual understanding and aids the decision-making process in ACP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6.e1
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number1
Early online date3 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Advance care planning
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • anticipatory medical care decisions
  • communication
  • nursing home

Cite this