• hospice care;
  • nursing role;
  • palliative care

With advances in health care and medical technology, the focus of medical care has been on curing. As people live longer, the possibility of experiencing chronic and life-limiting disease not only increases but also spurs the ethical question “Is length of life or quality of life most important?” Palliative care may be confused with hospice care, as both focus on symptom management and improved quality of life for those with chronic life-limiting disease. A better understanding of each healthcare option is needed for appropriate and timely patient referral. The purpose of this article is to identify the similarities and differences between these two options, clarify when referral is appropriate for hospice or palliative care services, and discuss the nurse's role in caring for patients with chronic disease.