Narrative Approach to Goals of Care Discussions: A Novel Curriculum

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Context: Innovative patient-centered approaches to goals of care (GOC) communication training are needed. Teaching a narrative approach, centered on the patient's unique story, is conceptually sound but has not been evaluated with respect to objective skills attainment. We developed a curriculum based on a novel, easily-remembered narrative approach to GOC, the 3-Act Model, and piloted it with a cohort of internal medicine (IM) interns. Objectives: To describe the development of the 3-Act Model curriculum and to assess its impact on the GOC communication skills of IM interns. Methods: The curriculum was developed with input from multidisciplinary experts, IM residents, and patient/family representative. Notable elements included instrument development with validity evidence established, determination of proficiency standards, and creation of role-play scenarios. In two three-hour workshops, interns participated in role-plays as both providers and patients, before and after teaching (which included narrative reflection, didactics, and video demonstration). Results: 22 interns played the role of provider in five unique scenarios; 106 proficiency ratings were analyzable. Interns objectively rated as proficient increased from 30% (pretest) to 100% (final role-play). By the end of the training, 96% of interns strongly agreed or agreed that they felt ready to independently lead basic GOC discussions and the percentage who strongly agreed increased with successive role-plays. All interns indicated they would recommend the training. Conclusion: This pilot demonstrates that the 3-Act Model is teachable and appreciated by learners. This GOC curriculum is the first based on a narrative approach to demonstrate objective skills improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1039.e1
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Communication skills curriculum
  • assessment tool
  • graduate medical education
  • narrative medicine
  • primary palliative care
  • role-play learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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