Integrating palliative care in the ICU: The nurse in a leading role

Judith E. Nelson, Therese B. Cortez, J. Randall Curtis, Dana R. Lustbader, Anne C. Mosenthal, Colleen Mulkerin, Daniel E. Ray, Rick Bassett, Renee D. Boss, Karen J. Brasel, Margaret L. Campbell, David E. Weissman, Kathleen A. Puntillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Palliative care is increasingly recognized as an integral component of comprehensive intensive care for all critically ill patients, regardless of prognosis, and for their families. Here we discuss the key role that nurses can and must continue to play in making this evidence-based paradigm a clinical reality across a broad range of ICUs. We review the contributions of nurses to implementation of ICU safety initiatives as a model that can be applied to ICU palliative care integration. We focus on the importance of nursing involvement in design and application of work processes that facilitate this integration in a systematic way, including processes that ensure the participation of nurses in discussions and decision making with families about care goals. We suggest ways that nurses can help to operationalize an integrated approach to palliative care in the ICU and to define their own essential role in a successful, sustainable ICU palliative care improvement effort. Finally, we identify resources including The IPAL-ICU Project™, a new initiative by the Center to Advance Palliative Care that can assist nurses and other healthcare professionals to move such efforts forward in diverse critical care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-94
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • intensive care
  • nurses role
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Community and Home Care
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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