Clinicians' views on the use of triggers for specialist palliative care in the ICU: A qualitative secondary analysis

Komal Patel Murali, Laura D. Fonseca, Craig D. Blinderman, Douglas B. White, May Hua

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To understand clinicians' views regarding use of clinical criteria, or triggers, for specialist palliative care consultation in the ICU. Materials and methods: Secondary analysis of a qualitative study that explored factors associated with adoption of specialist palliative care in the ICU. Semi-structured interviews with 36 ICU and palliative care clinicians included questions related to triggers for specialist palliative care. We performed a thematic analysis to identify participants' views on use of triggers, including appropriateness of cases for specialists and issues surrounding trigger implementation. Results: We identified five major themes: 1) Appropriate triggers for specialist palliative care, 2) Issues leading to clinician ambivalence for triggers, 3) Prospective buy-in of stakeholders, 4) Workflow considerations in deploying a trigger system, and 5) Role of ICU clinicians in approving specialist palliative care consults. Appropriate triggers included end-of-life care, chronic critical illness, frequent ICU admissions, and patient/family support. Most clinicians had concerns about “trigger overload” and ICU clinicians wanted to be broadly involved in implementation efforts. Conclusions: ICU and palliative care clinicians identified important issues to consider when implementing triggers for specialist palliative care consultation. Future research is needed to longitudinally examine the most appropriate triggers and best practices for trigger implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number154054
JournalJournal of Critical Care
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • Critical care
  • Implementation science
  • Palliative care
  • Qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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