The 3 Wishes Program Improves Families’ Experience of Emotional and Spiritual Support at the End of Life Academic Article uri icon

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  • Abstract Background The end-of-life (EOL) experience in the intensive care unit (ICU) is emotionally challenging, and there are opportunities for improvement. The 3 Wishes Program (3WP) promotes the dignity of dying patients and their families by eliciting and implementing wishes at the EOL. Aim To assess whether the 3WP is associated with improved ratings of EOL care. Program Description In the 3WP, clinicians elicit and fulfill simple wishes for dying patients and their families. Setting 2-hospital academic healthcare system. Participants Dying patients in the ICU and their families. Program Evaluation A modified Bereaved Family Survey (BFS), a validated tool for measuring EOL care quality, was completed by families of ICU decedents approximately 3 months after death. We compared patients whose care involved the 3WP to those who did not using three BFS–derived measures: Respectful Care and Communication (5 questions), Emotional and Spiritual Support (3 questions), and the BFS-Performance Measure (BFS-PM, a single-item global measure of care). Results Of 314 completed surveys, 117 were for patients whose care included the 3WP. Bereaved families of 3WP patients rated the Emotional and Spiritual Support factor significantly higher (7.5 vs. 6.0, p = 0.003, adjusted p = 0.001) than those who did not receive the 3WP. The Respectful Care and Communication factor and BFS-PM were no different between groups. Discussion The 3WP is a low-cost intervention that may be a feasible strategy for improving the EOL experience.


  • Neville, Thanh H
  • Taich, Zachary
  • Walling, Anne M
  • Bear, Danielle
  • Cook, Deborah
  • Tseng, Chi-Hong
  • Wenger, Neil S

publication date

  • January 2023