Prognostication in neurology

Handb Clin Neurol. 2022;190:175-193. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-323-85029-2.00003-8.


Prognosticating is central to primary palliative care in neurology. Many neurologic diseases carry a high burden of troubling symptoms, and many individuals consider health states due to neurologic disease worse than death. Many patients and families report high levels of need for information at all disease stages, including information about prognosis. There are many barriers to communicating prognosis including prognostic uncertainty, lack of training and experience, fear of destroying hope, and not enough time. Developing the right mindset, tools, and skills can improve one's ability to formulate and communicate prognosis. Prognosticating is subject to many biases which can dramatically affect the quality of patient care; it is important for providers to recognize and reduce them. Patients and surrogates often do not hear what they are told, and even when they hear correctly, they form their own opinions. With practice and self-reflection, one can improve their prognostic skills, help patients and families create honest roadmaps of the future, and deliver high-quality person-centered care.

Keywords: Biases; Clinical decision making; Hospice; Palliative care; Prognosis; Shared decision making.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases* / therapy
  • Neurology*
  • Palliative Care
  • Prognosis