Redefining the "planning" in advance care planning: preparing for end-of-life decision making

Ann Intern Med. 2010 Aug 17;153(4):256-61. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-4-201008170-00008.


The traditional objective of advance care planning has been to have patients make treatment decisions in advance so that clinicians can attempt to provide care consistent with their goals. The authors contend that the objective for advance care planning ought to be the preparation of patients and surrogates to participate with clinicians in making the best possible in-the-moment medical decisions. They provide practical steps for clinicians to help patients and surrogate decision makers achieve this objective in the outpatient setting. Preparation for in-the-moment decision making shifts the focus from having patients make premature decisions based on incomplete information to preparing them and their surrogates for the types of decisions and conflicts they may encounter when they do have to make in-the-moment decisions. Advance directives, although important, are just one piece of information to be used at the time of decision making.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Advance Care Planning*
  • Decision Making*
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Preference / psychology*
  • Proxy / psychology*