• care pathways;
  • end-of-life care;
  • healthcare quality;
  • nursing;
  • terminal care

Aim  To identify and discuss the current state of knowledge about end-of-life care (EOLC) pathways in relation to nursing.

Background  Enhancing EOLC has become a central concern in governments’ health policies worldwide. End-of-life care pathways have been championed as complex interventions to enhance the quality of end-of-life care. However, concerns have been expressed regarding their purpose, initiation and use.

Evaluation  A range of published literature was used to examine EOLC pathways in relation to nursing.

Key issues  Three main themes emerged: nursing’s contribution to the evolution of EOLC pathways, implementing EOLC pathways and the influence of EOLC pathways on nursing practice.

Conclusions  End-of-life care pathways are to be welcomed as a means by which the quality of EOLC might be enhanced. However, the state of knowledge about EOLC pathways, their development, implementation and influence on families and professional practice is in its infancy.

Implications for nursing management  End-of-life care pathways are championed as a means by which the quality of EOLC, for dying people and their families might be enhanced. However, as concerns regarding the quality of EOLC persist, nursing management has a crucial role in driving forward and supporting EOLC pathway development, implementation and evaluation.