A survey of clinician attitudes and self-reported practices regarding end-of-life care in heart failure

Shannon M. Dunlay, Jilian L. Foxen, Terese Cole, Molly A. Feely, Ann R. Loth, Jacob J. Strand, Jean A. Wagner, Keith M. Swetz, Margaret M. Redfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: As heart failure often follows an unpredictable clinical trajectory, there has been an impetus to promote iterative patient-provider discussions regarding prognosis and preferences for end-of-life care. Aim: To examine clinicians practices, expectations, and personal level of confidence in discussing goals of care and providing end-oflife care to their patients with heart failure. Design: Multi-site clinician survey. Setting and Participants: Physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota, USA) and its surrounding health system were asked to participate in an electronic survey in October 2013. Tertiary Care Cardiology, Community Cardiology, and Primary Care clinicians were surveyed. Results: A total of 95 clinicians participated (52.5% response rate). Only 12% of clinicians reported having annual end-of-life discussions as advocated by the American Heart Association. In total, 52% of clinicians hesitated to discuss end-of-life care citing provider discomfort (11%), perception of patient (21%) or family (12%) unreadiness, fear of destroying hope (9%), or lack of time (8%). Tertiary and Community Cardiology clinicians (66%) attributed responsibility for end-of-life discussions to the heart failure cardiologist, while 66% of Primary Care clinicians felt it was their responsibility. Overall, 30% of clinicians reported a low or very low level of confidence in one or more of the following: initiating prognosis or end-of-life discussions, enrolling patients in hospice, or providing end-of-life care. Most clinicians expressed interest in further skills acquisition. Conclusion: Clinicians vary in their views and approaches to end-of-life discussions and care. Some lack confidence and most are interested in further skills acquisition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)260-267
Number of pages8
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Heart failure
  • discussions
  • end-of-life
  • prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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