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New study finds significant benefits tied to Serious Illness Conversation Guide

ACP info for clinicians Advance care planning
17 November 2021

A new US study has found significant benefits tied to the Serious Illness Care Program, as published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine and in JAMA Oncology this month.

The study shows the Serious Illness Conversation Guide improved serious illness conversations between patients and their oncology clinicians in the US. This led to significant reductions in emotional suffering for patients with advanced cancer.

The conversations were centered on what matters most to patients, with 90 percent of patients discussing goals and values. As a result, the proportion of patients with moderate to severe anxiety and depression was reduced by half, and the anxiety improvements were sustained for at least 24 weeks.

This study is the first to demonstrate meaningful improvement in patients’ mental health symptoms from serious illness conversations and addresses the most common barriers to communication in a US clinical setting.

Developed by Ariadne Labs, the guide is a set of structured questions drawn from best practices in basic palliative care. This serves as a framework for clinicians to explore topics that are crucial to gaining a full understanding about what is most important to patients. The guide has been adapted for use in Aōtearoa.


Links to publications (limited access):