Serious Illness Conversation Guide

Implementation Tool
July 2017

This resource provides step-by-step guidance for clinicians engaging in conversation with patients about serious illness.


  • The basic steps are: set up the conversation; assess understanding and preferences; share prognosis; explore key topics; close the conversation; document your conversation; and communicate with key clinicians.
  • The resource includes examples of patient-tested language for each step. For example: “How much information about what is likely to be ahead with your illness would you like from me?” and “What are your most important goals if your health situation worsens?”
Posted to The Playbook on
Level of Evidence
What does this mean?