ADCC's Improving Goal Concordant Care Initiative: Implementing Primary Palliative Care Principles

Elizabeth T. Loggers, Amy A. Case, Marcin Chwistek, William Dale, Marvin O. Delgado Guay, Stephen B. Edge, Steven R. Grossman, Jillian Gustin, Judith Nelson, Sahana Rajasekhara, Akhila Reddy, James A. Tulsky, Finly Zachariah, Kristen Mc Niff Landrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: High-quality, timely goals of care communication (GOCC) may improve patient and caregiver outcomes and promote care that is consistent with patient preferences. Problem: Cancer patients, and their loved ones, appreciate GOCC; however, oncologists often lack formal communication training, institutional support and structures necessary to promote the delivery, documentation, and longitudinal follow-up of GOCC. Proposed solution: The Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers (ADCC), representing 10 U.S. academic cancer hospitals, undertook the Improving Goal Concordant Care Initiative (IGCC). This national, 3-year implementation initiative was designed in Fall 2019 by a workgroup of quality, oncology, and palliative care leaders, as well as patient and family advisory committee members (PFAC). IGCC addresses systemic gaps by requiring four core components for participation: 1) Implementation of a formal communication skills training (CST) program, 2) Structured GOCC documentation in the electronic medical record that is visible to all clinicians, 3) Expectations regarding the timing and patient populations for GOCC, and 4) Implementation of a measurement framework. Method: Dyads of palliative and oncology leaders committed to attend regularly scheduled, ADCC-led, virtual meetings during the design and implementation phase, incorporating PFAC feedback at every stage. Using the RE-AIM framework, we describe process and outcome evaluation measures defined by implementation and measures workgroups and collected routinely, including: CST completion; trainee evaluation response rate, trainee-reported quality of CST, trainee changes in self-efficacy and distress; percent of high-priority patients participating in GOCC, and patient-reported response to the “Heard and Understood” scale (HU). IGCC's impact will be assessed using claims-based utilization metrics near the end of life (EOLM) and followed longitudinally. Qualitative evaluations near the completion of IGCC will provide insight into perceived barriers, enabling factors, and sustainability. Outcomes: Implementation of all IGCC components has begun at all sites. ADCC-wide, 35% of MD/DOs have completed CST (range by site: 8%–100%). CST is highly rated; in Quarter 3, 2022, 93%–100%, 90%–100% and 87%–100% of respondents reported above average to excellent CST quality, likelihood to use the skills and likelihood to recommend CST to others, respectively. Clinician self-efficacy and distress ratings are expected in late 2023. All sites have identified patient populations and continue to refine automated triggers and timelines; uptake of GOCC documentation has been slow. Eight of 10 sites have submitted patient-reported HU data. EOLM data are expected for all sites in early 2024. Lessons learned: Flexibility in implementation with shared definitions, measures, and learnings about approaches optimizes the ability of all centers to collaborate and make progress in improving GOCC. Flexibility adds to the complexity of understanding intervention effectiveness, the critical intervention components and the fidelity necessary to achieve specific outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e283-e297
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Antibody-Dependent Cell Cytotoxicity
  • Goals
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Motivation
  • Palliative Care


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