Methodological Review| Volume 62, ISSUE 3, e305-e314, September 2021

Measuring Goal-Concordant Care in Palliative Care Research


      >Goal-concordant care is a priority outcome for palliative care research, yet the field lacks consensus on optimal methods for measurement. We sought to 1) categorize methods used to measure goal-concordant care, and 2) discuss strengths and limitations of each method using empirical examples from palliative care research. We categorized measurement methods for goal-concordant care. We identified empirical examples of each method to illustrate the strengths, limitations, and applicability of each method to relevant study designs. We defined four methods used to measure goal-concordant care: 1) Patient- or Caregiver-Reported, 2) Caregiver-Reported After Death, 3) Concordance in Longitudinal Data, and 4) Population-Level Indicators. Patient or caregiver-reported goal-concordant care draws on strengths of patient-reported outcomes, and can be captured for multiple aspects of treatment; these methods are subject to recall bias or family-proxy bias. Concordance in longitudinal data is optimal when a treatment preference can be specifically and temporally linked to actual treatment; the method is limited to common life-sustaining treatment choices and validity may be affected by temporal variation between preference and treatment. Population-level indicators allow pragmatic research to include large populations; its primary limitation is the assumption that preferences held by a majority of persons should correspond to patterns of actual treatment in similar populations. Methods used to measure goal-concordant care have distinct strengths and limitations, and methods should be selected based on research question and study design. Existing methods could be improved, yet a future gold standard is unlikely to suit all research designs.

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      2. Palliative Care Research Collaborative. Caregiver core. Available at: Accessed April 7, 2021.

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