Lay patient navigators’ perspectives of barriers, facilitators and training needs in initiating advance care planning conversations with older patients with cancer

Academic Article


  • Context: Respecting Choices is an evidence-based model of facilitating advance care planning (ACP) conversations between health-care professionals and patients. However, the effectiveness of whether lay patient navigators can successfully initiate Respecting Choices ACP conversations is unknown. As part of a large demonstration project (Patient Care Connect [PCC]), a cohort of lay patient navigators underwent Respecting Choices training and were tasked to initiate ACP conversations with Medicare beneficiaries diagnosed with cancer. Objectives: This article explores PCC lay navigators’ perceived barriers and facilitators in initiating Respecting Choices ACP conversations with older patients with cancer in order to inform implementation enhancements to lay navigator-facilitated ACP. Methods: Twenty-six lay navigators from 11 PCC cancer centers in 4 states (Alabama, George, Tennessee, and Florida) completed in-depth, one-on-one semistructured interviews between June 2015 and August 2015. Data were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: This evaluation identifies 3 levels—patient, lay navigator, and organizational factors in addition to training needs that influence ACP implementation. Key facilitators included physician buy-in, patient readiness, and navigators’ prior experience with end-of-life decision-making. Lay navigators’ perceived challenges to initiating ACP conversations included timing of the conversation and social and personal taboos about discussing dying. Conclusion: Our results suggest that further training and health system support are needed for lay navigators playing a vital role in improving the implementation of ACP among older patients with cancer. The lived expertise of lay navigators along with flexible longitudinal relationships with patients and caregivers may uniquely position this workforce to promote ACP.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Niranjan SJ; Huang CHS; Dionne-Odom JN; Halilova KI; Pisu M; Drentea P; Kvale EA; Bevis KS; Butler TW; Partridge EE
  • Start Page

  • 70
  • End Page

  • 78
  • Volume

  • 33
  • Issue

  • 2