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J Palliat Med. 2011 Oct;14(10):1109-16. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2011.0032. Epub 2011 Sep 6.

Palliative medicine and decision science: the critical need for a shared agenda to foster informed patient choice in serious illness.

Author information

1
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Norris Cotton Cancer Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA. marie.bakitas@hitchcock.org

Abstract

Assisting patients and their families in complex decision making is a foundational skill in palliative care; however, palliative care clinicians and scientists have just begun to establish an evidence base for best practice in assisting patients and families in complex decision making. Decision scientists aim to understand and clarify the concepts and techniques of shared decision making (SDM), decision support, and informed patient choice in order to ensure that patient and family perspectives shape their health care experience. Patients with serious illness and their families are faced with myriad complex decisions over the course of illness and as death approaches. If patients lose capacity, then surrogate decision makers are cast into the decision-making role. The fields of palliative care and decision science have grown in parallel. There is much to be gained in advancing the practices of complex decision making in serious illness through increased collaboration. The purpose of this article is to use a case study to highlight the broad range of difficult decisions, issues, and opportunities imposed by a life-limiting illness in order to illustrate how collaboration and a joint research agenda between palliative care and decision science researchers, theorists, and clinicians might guide best practices for patients and their families.

PMID:
21895453
PMCID:
PMC3236099
DOI:
10.1089/jpm.2011.0032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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