Exploring expanded interdisciplinary roles in goals of care conversations in a national goals of care initiative: A qualitative approach.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


The United States Veterans Health Administration National Center for Ethics in Health Care implemented the Life-Sustaining Treatment Decisions Initiative throughout the Veterans Health Administration health care system in 2017. This policy encourages goals of care conversations, referring to conversations about patient's treatment and end-of-life wishes for life-sustaining treatments, among Veterans with serious illnesses. A key component of the initiative is expanding interdisciplinary provider roles in having goals of care conversations.


Use organizational role theory to explore medical center experiences with expanding interdisciplinary roles in the implementation of a goals of care initiative.


A qualitative thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews.


Initial participants were recruited using purposive sampling of local medical center champions. Snowball sampling identified additional participants. Participants included thirty-one interdisciplinary providers from 12 geographically diverse initiative pilot and spread medical centers.


Five themes were identified. Expanding provider roles in goals of care conversations (1) involves organizational culture change; (2) is influenced by medical center leadership; (3) is supported by provider role readiness; (4) benefits from cross-disciplinary role agreement; and (5) can "overwhelm" providers.


Organizational role theory is a helpful framework for exploring interdisciplinary roles in a goals of care initiative. Support and recognition of provider role expansion in goals of care conversations was important for the adoption of a goals of care initiative. Actionable strategies, including multi-level leadership support and the use of interdisciplinary champions, facilitate role change and have potential to strengthen uptake of a goals of care initiative.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ma, JE; Haverfield, M; Lorenz, KA; Bekelman, DB; Brown-Johnson, C; Lo, N; Foglia, MB; Lowery, JS; Walling, AM; Giannitrapani, KF

Published Date

  • September 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 8

Start / End Page

  • 1542 - 1552

PubMed ID

  • 34080488

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1477-030X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0269-2163

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/02692163211020473


  • eng