Using the values-based history to fine-tune advance care planning for oncology patients

Eric E. Prommer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


There is no standardized approach to the discussion of advanced care planning. One approach to discussing advanced care planning involves the use of a values history. The values history focuses on questions related to overall health, personal relationships, and independence, as well as symptoms. The values history facilitates communication with the patient and allows the patient to express their view. This approach to patient communication is less threatening to patients and does not force the patient into thinking that they need the right answer. Values-based directives are less intrusive on a doctor's skill in making appropriate clinical decisions. They ask questions that require no technical skill and are easily done by other members of the health-care team. Values histories are useful in a wide range of situations where the doctor needs to understand the patient as a person. Compared to traditional, medicalized advance directives, values histories are less subject to the objections of not being clearly established at the time of their writing, or applicable in the circumstances that subsequently arise as in this case. They can help to validate preferences about treatment and also indicate appropriate courses of action that were not, or could not, be covered by traditional advance directives alone. This article illustrates the use of a values-based history in a patient with advanced head and neck cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-69
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Advance care planning
  • Communication
  • Values history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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