Gaining insight into the views of outpatients with Huntington’s disease regarding their future and the way they deal with their poor prognosis: a qualitative study

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Background: Huntington’s disease (HD) has a poor prognosis. Decision-making capacity and communication ability may become lost as the disease progresses. Therefore, HD patients are encouraged to engage in advance care planning (ACP). To improve ACP for HD patients, there is a need to better understand how these patients face their poor prognosis. Aim: To gain insight into the views of HD patients who receive outpatient care regarding their future and the way they deal with the poor prognosis of their disease. Methods: A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews with 12 patients with HD (7 outpatient clinic, 3 day care, 2 assisted living facility). Audio-recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim. Through reading and re-reading interviews, writing memos and discussions in the research team, strategies were identified. Results: Three strategies emerged for facing a future with HD. Participants saw the future: 1) as a period that you have to prepare for; 2) as a period that you would rather not think about; 3) as a period that you do not have to worry about yet. Participants could adopt more than one strategy at a time. Even though participants realized that they would deteriorate and would need more care in the future, they tried to keep this knowledge ‘at a distance’, with the motivation of keeping daily life as manageable as possible. Conclusions: Official ACP guidelines recommend discussing goals and preferences for future treatment and care, but patients tend to want to live in the present. Further research is needed to elucidate the best approach to deal with this discrepancy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalBMC palliative care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Advance care planning
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Patients’ perspectives
  • Qualitative research

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