Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Late referrals to palliative care services for patients suffering from terminal lung cancer is an ongoing problem that unnecessarily shortens patient survival time by inadequate and poorly timed symptom control that affects the remaining quality of life for both patient and family. The latest mortality figures available (2011) showed approximately 157,000 people died due to cancer of the lung, trachea, and bronchus (CDC, 2014a). The purpose of this independent study was to review and effectively analyze the literature and understand the reasons and barriers to early referral of palliative care services by health care providers for their clients diagnosed with lung cancer

A detailed literature search, review, and discussion of various palliative care research articles were conducted. The aim was to examine the time and implementation of palliative care referrals for patients diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The timing of when palliative care was initiated for patients diagnosed with lung cancer was critical for improved symptom control, quality of life, and general satisfaction with the medical care received. Early palliative care referral may be of great benefit to allow the patient and family time to prepare and adjust for the inevitable decline and outcome that accompanies terminal lung cancer diagnoses. Nurses, as patient advocates, may help to influence early palliative referrals by increasing their knowledge and understanding of the benefits of early palliative treatment and effectively communicating this information to patient, family, and provider