Building on individual, state, and federal initiatives for advance care planning, an integral component of palliative and end-of-life cancer care
Federal and state provisions for advance care planning-the process by which patients, families, and medical professionals plan for future and, in particular, end-of-life care-continue to receive attention. Such planning remains an integral component of palliative care, complementing the recognition and treatment of pain and other symptoms that patients with advanced malignancies and their families encounter. Historically, advance care planning interventions (particularly those involving advance directives) have been unable to consistently demonstrate positive outcomes for patients with life-threatening illnesses. However, more recent literature, including that on patients with cancer, illustrates that both patients and caregivers report improved quality of life and less distress after discussions with their health care teams about end-of-life care. Herein, we discuss recent federal and state public policy that focuses on advance care planning, suggesting the promise for care delivery improvements and the means by which existing barriers might be surmounted. These care delivery issues apply to several disease states but are particularly pertinent to the adult oncology setting.