Background Close to half of all deaths in Norway occur in nursing homes, which signals a need for good communication on end-of-life care. Advance care planning (ACP) is one means to that end, but in Norwegian nursing homes, ACP is not common. This paper describes the protocol of a project evaluating an ACP-intervention in Norwegian nursing homes. The aims of this research project were to promote the possibility for conversations about the end of life with patients and relatives; promote patient autonomy; create a better foundation for important decisions in the case of medical emergencies and at the end of life; and gain experiences in order to find out what characterizes good ACP and good implementation strategies. Methods/design This study was a mixed method study including a cluster-randomized clinical trial. Eight nursing home wards or “clusters” were pair-matched, and one ward from each pair was randomly selected for a 12-month intervention. The intervention consisted of implementing an ACP-guideline. Implementation strategies were training and supervision of project teams and staff in using the guideline, written information to patients and next of kin, and information meetings with nursing home staff. The project was evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative data, and both outcome and process evaluation. Quantitative data included patient chart reviews of ACP, diagnoses, patient preferences for decision-making and treatment, values and wishes that are more general, documented life-prolonging treatment and hospitalizations, and concordance between patient wishes and treatment. The primary outcome was documented ACP. Qualitative data included observations of conversations, interviews with patients, next of kin and health care personnel, logs from project coordinators and conversations, and transcripts from meetings with project teams in the intervention group. Discussion This project attempted to increase the quality and use of ACP in Norwegian nursing homes (NH). A mixed methods approach, inclusion of patients with dementia, attempts to involve, as many patients as possible, and a sustainable implementation plan adapted to real life in nursing homes were strengths of the project.
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