Prognostic disclosure is an important component of communication in palliative care. Disclosing information on poor prognosis may affect quality of life (QoL) of palliative care patients. However, the effects of prognostic disclosure on QoL across different cultures and countries are unclear.
To review the effects of prognostic disclosure on QoL of palliative care patients.
A systematic review was conducted across seven databases (AMED, CINAHL plus, Cochrane Library, Medline (via the PubMed interface), Embase, Scopus and Web of Science). All primary studies, of any design, that explored the effects of prognostic disclosure on QoL of adult palliative care patients were eligible.
A total of 1926 records were screened for eligibility. Twenty-five articles were included (11 cross-sectional, 10 cohort, 3 mixed methods and 1 qualitative study). Studies were conducted in 11 countries. Five studies reported the sources of prognostic disclosure, while 20 studies did not. Emotional QoL was the most reported domain among the studies. The effects of prognostic disclosure on emotional aspects, overall QoL and other domains, including symptoms, physical functions, role functions, social functions and cognitive functions, were inconsistent.
The effects of prognostic disclosure on QoL across cultures and countries are inconsistent. Cultural differences are not sufficient to explain the effects. Future research is needed to explore the association between prognostic disclosure and QoL, and develop tools to support clinicians to share prognostic information in the most sensitive and supportive way.