Learning and honoring what matters most to people with multiple chronic conditions.


What is the VITAL study?

The Valuing Important Things in Active Lives (VITAL) study is a three-year project funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and quality. VITAL’s ultimate goal is to improve care for people with multiple chronic health conditions—like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. To do that, the study is starting with an opportunity that traditional health care often overlooks: understanding what is most important to patients and designing a way to share that information with the patient’s care team.

Through each step of the study, the needs and preferences of patients and their families are the focal point. Using in-depth interviews and principles of human-centered design, the VITAL study aims to connect patients with care options that support their personal values.

Why is the VITAL study important?

People who have multiple chronic health conditions must navigate complicated care plans every day. They must make choices about their treatment and self-care—choices that are influenced by multiple factors, such as financial resources, time constraints, and the support of a family caregiver.

In addition, clinical guidelines for treating individual chronic conditions don’t take into account the challenges that arise when someone has more than one chronic illness. So a patient may have difficulty pursuing treatment recommendations for one condition due the presence of other health conditions. For instance, someone who wants to control complications of diabetes through exercise might have difficulty due to pain from arthritis or shortness of breath from lung disease

That’s why the VITAL study is so important—because it was designed to help patients and their care teams focus these daily choices on what matters most to patients. To do that, the study aims to answer several key questions:

  1. What matters most to patients? How do they think about what’s most important to them,?
  2. How can patients best communicate what’s most important to them to their care team? And how can care teams help encourage these conversations?
  3. What’s the best way for a patient’s personal values to guide care planning? And how might health information technology—such as electronic health records—be used to support these conversations?

Learn more about our methods and findings

Chronic Illness


Patients may not be telling their doctors what matters to them most

KPWHRI’s VITAL study discovers six domains that people with chronic illness too rarely discuss with their care providers.

Read about it & watch the video in News and Events.