"The information that I gained from these modules has completely changed my thinking on how palliative care can be used and integrated into the care and management of my patients with symptomatic chronic disease and not reserved only for the end of their life."

Continuing Education » Module 6 Overview

Module 6: Facilitating Communication and Advance Care Planning in Palliative Care

  • Catherine Gilbert, EdD, RN
  • Kathy T. Morris, MSN, RN
  • Crystal Dea Moore PhD, MSW


Communication among patients, families, and medical professionals in the context of palliative and end-of-life care can be challenging and complex for numerous reasons. Healthcare providers may not be trained in interpersonal communication strategies and can overuse jargon that is confusing for patients (Loprinzi et al., 2010; Szmuilowicz, el-Jawahri, Chiappetta, Kamdar, & Block, 2010; Wilkinson, Perry, Blancahard, & Linsell, 2008). Providers may worry about causing psychological harm or robbing patients of hope if frank discussions about advanced disease and end-of-life issues are initiated (Moore, 2008; Oflaz et al., 2010; Reinke et al., 2010; Slort et al., 2011). Upon receipt of bad news, patients and families can be stressed and possibly overwhelmed, minimizing their ability to process provided information. In spite of these challenges, the success of palliative care interventions is contingent upon clear, sensitive, and timely communication between the patient and the healthcare team. The nurse who provides palliative care is well suited to explore advanced care planning topics and end-of- life issues with patients and their loved ones, thereby facilitating and promoting quality patient-centered care.

This module provides practical strategies that can assist the nurse when facilitating end-of-life conversations and meaningful advance care planning. Examples of dialogue communications are provided to help the nurse begin conversations related to the patient's understanding of the illness, decision-making style, fears related to the disease progression and death, as well as discussions that address practical issues, advance care planning, and ultimately death.

Module Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the reader will be able to:

  1. Describe strategies to build rapport with patients and families
  2. Identify how to utilize active listening skills with patients and families
  3. Evaluate how to assist patients in addressing practical concerns related to coping with advanced disease
  4. Review the types of advance directives used in advance care planning.

Average Test Duration: 1.5 hrs

  1. Begin Facilitating Communication and Advance Care Planning in Palliative Care Module
  2. Take Test