Most Important Elements of End-of-Life Care




An Australian team conducted a literature review of expected deaths in the hospital—where the majority of deaths in the developed world occur—and identified elements of end-of-life care that are important to patients and families.1 Published in the British journal Palliative Medicine, the review of nine electronic data bases and 1859 articles released between 1990 and 2014 identified eight quantitative studies that met inclusion criteria.

The authors, led by Claudia Virdun, RN, of the faculty of health at the University of Technology in Sydney, found four end-of-life domains that were most important to both patients and families:

  • Effective communication and shared decision-making;
  • Expert care;
  • Respectful and compassionate care; and
  • Trust and confidence in clinicians.

Not all patients dying in hospitals receive best evidence-based palliative care, the authors note, adding that the “challenge for healthcare services is to act on this evidence, reconfigure care systems accordingly and ensure universal access to optimal end-of-life care within hospitals.”


  1. Virdun C, Luckett T, Davidson PM, Phillips J. Dying in the hospital setting: A systematic review of quantitative studies identifying the elements of end-of-life care that patients and their families rank as being most important [published online ahead of print April 28, 2015]. Palliat Med.

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