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Goal setting in palliative care: A structured review

By Sally Boa, Edward Duncan, Erna Haraldsdottir and Sally Wyke


Background: Palliative care and rehabilitation both aim to support patients to live as actively as possible. Goal setting has been identified in health policy and clinical guidelines as a mechanism to achieve this. While goal setting is well established in traditional rehabilitation, it is unclear how it should be implemented within palliative care where people are faced with diminishing abilities. Aim: To identify and synthesize published literature regarding goal setting in palliative care. Method: Electronic searches were carried out on MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO, EMBASE, CINAHL, ASSIA, and Google Scholar databases between November 2010 and January 2011. Papers were included if they focused on patient-centred goal setting in palliative care. No restrictions were placed on study design or type of paper. Papers were classified according to the type and design and research papers were quality appraised. Papers were read and analysed using framework analysis. Findings: Sixteen papers met the inclusion criteria. Three themes were identified: 1. Definitions, process, and functions of goal setting; 2. The challenges of delivering goal setting; 3. Theories underpinning goal setting. Conclusions: Goal setting is recognized as an important component of patient-centred palliative care, but there is no agreement regarding ‘best practice' and clinicians face particular challenges when trying to set goals with patients in this context. Little attention has been paid to developing a robust, theory-based approach to goal setting in this setting. Hope theory and theories of how people adapt to life-threatening illness could inform the process of goal setting in palliative care

Topics: Goal setting, Palliative care, Rehabilitation, Structured literature review
Publisher: 'Maney Publishing'
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.1179/1743291X14Y.0000000097
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