Advance Care Planning in Belgium
Z Evid Fortbild Qual Gesundhwes. 2023 Jun 28:S1865-9217(23)00078-8. doi: 10.1016/j.zefq.2023.05.003. Online ahead of print.
This paper aims to 1) describe current levels of Advance Care Planning (ACP) development since 2002 in Belgium, 2) report on challenges and opportunities to inspire other countries with similar contextual characteristics and 3) support further development of ACP practice and research in Belgium. To address these aims, we consulted local researchers, 12 domain experts and (grey) literature (regulatory documents, reports, policy documents and practice guidelines) on ACP, palliative care, and related healthcare topics. Since 2002, when the Patient's Right Law was passed in the federal Parliament, Belgium has had a specific medicolegal context for ACP. Initiatives to improve the uptake of ACP have been taken, e.g. standardised documentation, reimbursement codes for physicians provided by the government, and implementation of quality indicators in hospitals and nursing homes. Most of these initiatives are grassroots or predominantly oriented towards a single group of professions, e.g. general practitioners, disregarding the role that other professions can play. The patient groups most often targeted are those with cancer and older adults. Limited but growing attention is given to those with low health literacy or other minority groups. Main barriers to ACP in Belgium are: no unified platform to exchange outcomes of ACP discussions or advance directives between healthcare professionals and though efforts are made, ACP is still predominantly oriented towards documentation.