Goals of care toward the end of life: a structured literature review

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2008 Dec-2009 Jan;25(6):501-11. doi: 10.1177/1049909108328256.


Goals of care are often mentioned as an important component of end-of-life discussions, but there are diverse assessments regarding the type and number of goals that should be considered. To address this lack of consensus, we searched MEDLINE (1967-2007) for relevant articles and identified the number, phrasing, and type of goals they addressed. An iterative process of categorization resulted in a list of 6 practical, comprehensive goals: (1) be cured, (2) live longer, (3) improve or maintain function/quality of life/ independence, (4) be comfortable, (5) achieve life goals, and (6) provide support for family/caregiver. These goals can be used to articulate goal-oriented frameworks to guide decision making toward the end of life and thereby harmonize patients' treatment choices with their values and medical conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Advance Care Planning
  • Attitude to Death
  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Family / psychology
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Life Support Care
  • Longevity
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Patient Care Planning / organization & administration*
  • Patient Participation
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Social Support
  • Spirituality
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration*
  • Terminal Care / psychology