Prognostic considerations 

Prognosis plays a vital role in clinical decision making but it is also important for patients and families to understand what is likely to happen and over what time period.

Key points

Information about prognosis may affect patients’ and families’ decisions

    • Patients’ attitudes to treatment and interventions may shift as prognosis shortens
    • Personal priorities and preferred place of care may change
    • Prognosis may affect the sustainability of care arrangements in the community.

Performance state has prognostic significance, especially in advanced cancer

A prognosis in terms of 'days', 'weeks' or 'months' can be reasonably predicted for many patients with cancer.

Australian-modified Karnofsky Performance Scale (35kb pdf)

Specific prognostic guidance (SPICT) is available for a range of advanced non-malignant conditions. CareSearch has developed interactive SPICT (315kb pdf) and SPICT4ALL (317kb pdf) forms for online use.

Palliative care services cannot provide long-term in-patient care.

Families may sometimes need to consider residential aged care if the prognosis is months, and the need for good physical nursing is the main focus of the person’s care.

The Fast Facts series (86kb pdf) has rapid information on key issues.

SPICT tool (315kb pdf)

Last updated 24 August 2021