You are visiting the 2019 PCC4U website. Throughout 2020 there will be two active PCC4U sites. Please check with your education provider that you are on the correct site. For access to the 2020 PCC4U site, go to



Print this page

Learning modules

Activity 7: Ethical issues & end of life

Ethical issues that arise towards the end of life may be complex. Some examples of ethical issues encountered in palliative care are:

  • method and timing of conversations with family members around the imminent death of a loved one
  • deciding when to withdraw futile treatment options and communicating this to the patient and their family
  • advance care planning (this is discussed in detail in Module 4).

Ethical principles which guide actions and responses to these situations are consistent with principles applied in all areas of health care. These principles include:

  • beneficence
  • respect
  • self-determination
  • truth telling
  • confidentiality
  • informed consent
  • justice and non-maleficence. [1]

Thinking points


1. Palliative Care Expert Group. (2010). Ethical Issues. In: Therapeutic guidelines: palliative care. Version 3. Melbourne, VIC: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited.

2. Palliative Care Australia. (2009). Advance Care Planning Position Statement. Retrieved September 5, 2016, from