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Cureus. 2018 Mar 13;10(3):e2321. doi: 10.7759/cureus.2321.

Sharing is Caring: Minimizing the Disruption with Palliative Care.

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Department of Family Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL.
Department of Family Medicine/palliative Medicine Fellowship, Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, Fl.


There is an upward trend incidence of multiple chronic life-limiting conditions with a well-documented associated impact on patients and their caregivers. When patients approach the end of life, they are often faced with a challenging multidimensional burden while navigating a complex health care system. Patients and families/caregivers are faced with daily decisions, often with little or no frame of reference or medical knowledge. The "what, how, when, and where" puzzle during this challenging time can be overwhelming for patients and their families, and when clinicians do not contemplate this associated workload's impact on patients and caregivers' capacity for self-care, patients and caregivers scramble to find compensatory solutions, often putting their health care at lower priority. This consequently warrants the underlying importance of palliative care and integrating it into the patients' health care plans earlier. There is increasing evidence from recent trials that supported implementing national policies regarding the early integration of palliative care and its role in improving the quality of life, increasing survival, and supporting patients' and caregivers' values when making decisions about their health care while possibly minimizing the burden of illness. The mission of palliative care is to assess, anticipate, and alleviate the challenges and suffering for patients and their caregivers by providing well-constructed approaches to disease-related physical treatments as well as psychological, financial, and spiritual aspects. Communication among all participants (the patient, family/caregivers, and all involved health care professionals) ought to be timely, thorough, and patient-centric. Palliative medicine arguably represents an example of shared decision-making (SDM)-facilitating a patient-centered, informed decision-making through an empathic conversation that is supported by clinicians' expertise and the best available evidence that takes patients values and preferences into consideration. Palliative care teams often consider the burden placed on patients and their caregivers, thus treatment plans would be assessed and introduced into the patients' lives with reflection on the related workload and the potential capacity to take on those plans. Such an approach to pause-and-examine, understand-and-discuss, and assess-and-alleviate might provide a possible example of a health care system that is minimally disruptive to patients and their families. This is an opportunity to replace the information-filled encounter with a more constructive engagement and empowerment to all major stakeholders to participate-an axiom integral to palliative care. Using the best available evidence in caring for patients while enacting SDM, palliative care, primary care, and other subspecialty clinicians need to consider the significant workload and burden that comes with health care and thus explore pathways to minimize the disruption in patients and caregivers' lives. As we collaborate to end cancer and all other mobdeities, we a need a concurrent movement to transform this disease-centered, payer-driven health care era to a rather patient-entered, thoughtful, and minimally disruptive one will benefit patients and physicians alike.


cancer; care models; caregiver; coordinated care; end of life care; minimally disruptive medicine; palliative and hospice care; primary care; shared decision making; specialty consultation

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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