DOI: 10.1097/spc.0000000000000672 ISSN:

Goals of care and end-of-life communication needs of persons with chronic respiratory disease

Lynn F. Reinke, Tracy Fasolino, Donald R. Sullivan
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Oncology (nursing)
  • Oncology
  • General Medicine

Purpose of the review

To highlight recent advances in effective communication among persons with chronic respiratory diseases. The authors focus on communication science related to goals of care (GOC) discussions, medical devices, and life-sustaining invasive treatments. The authors discuss important considerations when working with individuals with low literacy and rurality. Communication handoffs between respiratory clinicians and/or palliative care to hospice clinicians are summarized to ensure effective person-centered and caregiver-centered care.

Recent findings

Studies suggest the following communication approaches: (1) clarify differences between palliative and end of life; (2) conduct conversations early and gradual throughout the illness trajectory; (3) distinguish types of GOC discussions as they relate to treatment preferences; (4) for patients from rural communities, include family members and spiritual leaders; (5) assess literacy and employ supportive strategies; (6) apply time-limited-trial framework for life-sustaining treatment (LST) decisions; and (7) standardize processes for communication handoffs to hospice clinicians to improve communication fidelity.


Effective communication tools for clinicians to engage in GOC discussions for persons with chronic respiratory diseases are grounded in a patient-centered framework. A trained clinician should lead these conversations and include interdisciplinary team members throughout the disease trajectory including at the end of life. These approaches may enable patients to express their values and care preferences as they evolve over time.

More from our Archive