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J Palliat Med. 2004 Dec;7(6):774-83.

Integrating palliative care into disease management guidelines.

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Buehler Center on Aging, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois 60611, USA.



Palliative care should not be reserved for those who are close to dying; as a comprehensive approach to minimizing illness-related suffering, it is appropriate for patients with significant illness from the time of diagnosis on.


The American Hospice Foundation Guidelines Committee's initiative aims to provide a practical approach for guideline writers and others to integrate palliative care into disease management and care services whenever it is relevant.


A consensus approach was used to design recommendations for upgrading existing disease management and service guidelines to include palliative care.


A template is described for identifying stages in disease management guidelines when integration of palliative care is appropriate: (1) Introductory sections to disease management guidelines should include prognosis and other disease consequences; (2) Diagnostic sections should include recommendations for conducting a whole patient assessment; (3) Treatment sections should include discernment of patient goals for care, continuous goal reassessment, palliative care interventions to reduce suffering as needed, and treatment decisions should include discussion of the type of expected improvement. Service guidelines should note the role of interdisciplinary team care as well as palliative care consultative or care services; (4) Sections that conclude the care provided to incurable patients should not end without recommendations on grief and bereavement care, and care during the last hours of living.


The American Hospice Foundation Guidelines Committee recommends integration of relevant aspects of palliative care in introductory, diagnostic, treatment, and closing sections of management guidelines for all significant illnesses.

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