Refinement of a Conceptual Model for Adolescent Readiness to Engage in End-of-Life Discussions.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Adolescents living with incurable cancer require ongoing support to process grief, emotions, and information as disease progresses including treatment options (phase 1 clinical trials and/or hospice/palliative care). Little is known about how adolescents become ready for such discussions.


The purpose of this study was to explore the process of adolescent readiness for end-of-life preparedness discussions, generating a theoretical understanding for guiding clinical conversations when curative options are limited.


We explored 2 in-depth cases across time using case-study methodology. An à priori conceptual model based on current end-of-life research guided data collection and analysis. Multiple sources including in-depth adolescent interviews generated data collection on model constructs. Analysis followed a logical sequence establishing a chain of evidence linking raw data to study conclusions. Synthesis and data triangulation across cases and time led to theoretical generalizations. Initially, we proposed a linear process of readiness with 3 domains: a cognitive domain (awareness), an emotional domain (acceptance), and a behavioral domain (willingness), which preceded preparedness.


Findings led to conceptual model refinement showing readiness is a dynamic internal process that interacts with preparedness. Current awareness context facilitates the type of preparedness discussions (cognitive or emotional). Furthermore, social constraint inhibits discussions.


Data support theoretical understanding of the dynamism of readiness. Future research that validates adolescent conceptualization will ensure age-appropriate readiness representation.

Implications for practice

Understanding the dynamic process of readiness for engaging in end-of-life preparedness provides clinician insight for guiding discussions that facilitate shared decision making and promote quality of life for adolescents and their families.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bell, CJ; Zimet, GD; Hinds, PS; Broome, ME; McDaniel, AM; Mays, RM; Champion, VL

Published Date

  • March 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 2

Start / End Page

  • E21 - E39

PubMed ID

  • 28114261

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1538-9804

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0162-220X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/ncc.0000000000000465


  • eng