Refinement of a Conceptual Model for Adolescent Readiness to Engage in End-of-Life Discussions

Cynthia J. Bell, Gregory D. Zimet, Pamela S. Hinds, Marion Broome, Anna M. McDaniel, Rose M. Mays, Victoria L. Champion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background: Adolescents living with incurable cancer require ongoing support to process grief, emotions, and information as disease progresses including treatment options (phase 1 clinical trials and/or hospice/palliative care). Little is known about how adolescents become ready for such discussions. Objective: The purpose of this study was to explore the process of adolescent readiness for end-of-life preparedness discussions, generating a theoretical understanding for guiding clinical conversations when curative options are limited. Methods: We explored 2 in-depth cases across time using case-study methodology. An à priori conceptual model based on current end-of-life research guided data collection and analysis. Multiple sources including in-depth adolescent interviews generated data collection on model constructs. Analysis followed a logical sequence establishing a chain of evidence linking raw data to study conclusions. Synthesis and data triangulation across cases and time led to theoretical generalizations. Initially, we proposed a linear process of readiness with 3 domains: A cognitive domain (awareness), an emotional domain (acceptance), and a behavioral domain (willingness), which preceded preparedness. Results: Findings led to conceptual model refinement showing readiness is a dynamic internal process that interacts with preparedness. Current awareness context facilitates the type of preparedness discussions (cognitive or emotional). Furthermore, social constraint inhibits discussions. Conclusions: Data support theoretical understanding of the dynamism of readiness. Future research that validates adolescent conceptualization will ensure age-appropriate readiness representation. Implications for Practice: Understanding the dynamic process of readiness for engaging in end-of-life preparedness provides clinician insight for guiding discussions that facilitate shared decision making and promote quality of life for adolescents and their families.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E21-E39
JournalCancer nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Adolescent readiness
  • Awareness
  • Case-study methodology
  • Conceptual model
  • End-of-life discussions
  • Hospice
  • Incurable cancer
  • Palliative care
  • Preparedness
  • Quality of life
  • Shared decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)

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