Send to

Choose Destination
J Palliat Med. 2018 Mar;21(S2):S17-S27. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2017.0459. Epub 2017 Nov 1.

Achieving Goal-Concordant Care: A Conceptual Model and Approach to Measuring Serious Illness Communication and Its Impact.

Author information

1 Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute , Boston, Massachusetts.
2 Division of Palliative Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital , Boston, Massachusetts.
3 Ariadne Labs , Boston, Massachusetts.
4 Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, University of Washington , Seattle, Washington.



High-quality care for seriously ill patients aligns treatment with their goals and values. Failure to achieve "goal-concordant" care is a medical error that can harm patients and families. Because communication between clinicians and patients enables goal concordance and also affects the illness experience in its own right, healthcare systems should endeavor to measure communication and its outcomes as a quality assessment. Yet, little consensus exists on what should be measured and by which methods.


To propose measurement priorities for serious illness communication and its anticipated outcomes, including goal-concordant care.


We completed a narrative review of the literature to identify links between serious illness communication, goal-concordant care, and other outcomes. We used this review to identify gaps and opportunities for quality measurement in serious illness communication.


Our conceptual model describes the relationship between communication, goal-concordant care, and other relevant outcomes. Implementation-ready measures to assess the quality of serious illness communication and care include (1) the timing and setting of serious illness communication, (2) patient experience of communication and care, and (3) caregiver bereavement surveys that include assessment of perceived goal concordance of care. Future measurement priorities include direct assessment of communication quality, prospective patient or family assessment of care concordance with goals, and assessment of the bereaved caregiver experience.


Improving serious illness care necessitates ensuring that high-quality communication has occurred and measuring its impact. Measuring patient experience and receipt of goal-concordant care should be our highest priority. We have the tools to measure both.


goal-concordant care; quality measurement; serious illness communication

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center