The creation of an advance care planning process for patients with ESRD

Am J Kidney Dis. 2007 Jan;49(1):27-36. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2006.09.016.


Comprehensive care of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) requires expertise in advance care planning (ACP), including attention to ethical, psychosocial, and spiritual issues related to starting, continuing, withholding, and stopping dialysis therapy. ACP currently is under evolution from a document-driven decision-focused event. This article describes a new approach to ACP that emphasizes a relational patient-centered process that focuses on broader goals of care for a particular dialysis patient with known medical problems and is designed to serve as a guide to help nephrologists, social workers, and other health care professionals explore ACP discussions with their patients with ESRD. Specifically, we define ACP, highlight goals and key features of this facilitated ACP process, and provide an interview guide with examples of questions that can be used to explore the various aspects of ACP with patients and their families. Outcomes of such an ACP process will not be measured by increasing the number of completed advance directives, but by improving satisfaction with the entire end-of-life experience and having outcomes match patient preferences. It is expected that such a process will enhance shared decision making among patient, surrogate, and health care provider and help build strong and intimate relationships that can only serve to enhance end-of-life care. Throughout this process, patients are not abandoned as they confront the realities of declining health and functional status, but rather are supported through their illness and life on dialysis treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Patient Participation