When it comes to end-of-life care, most organizations struggle to meet patients' needs. In a recent poll, 87% of Americans age 65 and older said that they believe their doctor should discuss end-of-life issues with their patients; however, only 27% of those polled had actually discussed these issues with their doctor.
To encourage patients to talk to their care team about their concerns and questions, the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) piloted a social worker-led intervention for patients with advanced cancer. In the program, social workers meet with patients and caregivers to introduce a question prompt list covering a range of topics, including goals of treatment and expectations for care.
Then, social workers help patients identify their top priorities and coach them on how to raise these issues with the care team. At the end of the meeting, the social worker writes up summary notes and reviews next steps for the patient.
In a randomized control trial, URMC showed that patients who received coaching were twice as likely to ask questions related to end of life during their next physician visit compared to patients who did not receive the intervention.