What is it that patients at the end of life want to know? What is the best way to provide the information? A review of the scientific literature was conducted to answer these two questions. The findings suggested that, regardless of age or culture, patients at the end of life wanted information about their illness and prognosis. The expertise of the physician, his/her relationship with the patient, and the use of hopeful communication styles were important factors in how patients understood the information provided. Honest and factual communication fostered hope and quality of life at the end of life.
Key words: physician-patient communication, end of life, literature review, palliative care.