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The Use of Palliative Care to Promote Autonomy in Decision Making

Ruth Zalonis
Margaret Slota
CJON 2014, 18(6), 707-711 DOI: 10.1188/14.CJON.707-711

This article explores barriers to informed decision making in health care, and it proposes palliative care as one means of responding to the challenge of a widespread lack of autonomy in decision making. Through an exploration of research in the fields of autonomy and palliative care, the advantages of informed decision making and advance care planning by patients with advanced illness are discussed, and the implications for clinical practice and patient outcomes are described. Continuity, collaboration, and communication have a synergistic effect on autonomy. The expectation that the palliative care team will be in constant communication with the attending physician, nurses, and other specialists also promotes autonomous decision making. Patients who receive palliative care may have multiple advantages, including increased survival, improved quality of life, and opportunities for the exercise of autonomy.

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