Coaching Palliative Care Conversations: Evaluating the Impact on Resident Preparedness and Goals-of-Care Conversations

Rachel Rodenbach, Dio Kavalieratos, Anoo Tamber, Corey Tapper, Judith Resick, Robert Arnold, Julie Childers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: There is increasing need for nonspecialty physicians to deliver palliative care (PC) services to meet patient needs, but many physicians feel inadequately prepared. Objective: We aimed to improve the PC skills of resident physicians through a learner-centered, just-in-time coaching intervention. Design: Our quality improvement initiative consisted of two didactics and brief thrice-weekly coaching sessions that focused on real-time PC questions. Upper level internal medicine residents participated during an inpatient hospitalist rotation. Measurements: Residents completed pre/postrotation surveys of their preparedness in discussing PC topics. Electronic medical record data of documentation of goals-of-care (GOC) discussions and Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) completion in at-risk hospitalized patients (age >65 with two or more hospitalizations in the past six months, or age >90) were obtained and compared with before hospitalization. These data were also compared with data from patients on the same resident hospitalist service during the six-month period before the intervention began. Results: During the 14-month intervention period, 42 residents cared for 232 at-risk patients. Among at-risk patients, 12.9% had a documented GOC discussion before hospitalization, which rose to 57.3% before discharge. Among at-risk patients preintervention, these rates were 5.2% and 25.0%, respectively. Residents reported their preparedness increased across many elements of GOC discussions and rated coaching sessions as useful and relevant to their training. Rates of POLST completion did not differ between preintervention and intervention groups. Conclusions: Brief coaching sessions can integrate PC education into a busy clinical service, improve residents' primary PC skills, and improve GOC documentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)220-225
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • coaching
  • goals of care
  • palliative care education
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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