Theories of Health Care Decision Making at the End of Life: A Meta-Ethnography

Kyounghae Kim, Katherine Heinze, Jiayun Xu, Melissa Kurtz, Hyunjeong Park, Megan Foradori, Marie T. Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The aim of this meta-ethnography is to appraise the types and uses of theories relative to end-of-life decision making and to develop a conceptual framework to describe end-of-life decision making among patients with advanced cancers, heart failure, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and their caregivers or providers. We used PubMed, Embase, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases to extract English-language articles published between January 2002 and April 2015. Forty-three articles were included. The most common theories included decision-making models (n = 14) followed by family-centered (n = 11) and behavioral change models (n = 7). A conceptual framework was developed using themes including context of decision making, communication and negotiation of decision making, characteristics of decision makers, goals of decision making, options and alternatives, and outcomes. Future research should enhance and apply these theories to guide research to develop patient-centered decision-making programs that facilitate informed and shared decision making at the end of life among patients with advanced illness and their caregivers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1861-1884
Number of pages24
JournalWestern journal of nursing research
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • decision making
  • end-of-life
  • framework
  • meta-ethnography
  • patients with advanced illness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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