Patient-centered care is critical to the successful management of chronic diseases, such as chronic kidney disease. While a course of treatment may prolong life it may come with a reduced quality of life (QOL). For many patients, the decision to prolong life at the expense of lower QOL is not an obvious choice. Dialysis patients make treatment decisions daily, some of which can be life-altering. Therefore, the need for optimal decision-making may be more pressing in dialysis patients than in many other chronic disease states. Guiding patients through these life-altering decisions requires a fuller understanding of how they view their disease, their treatments, and the consequence of accepting or rejecting the treatments offered to them. We propose a conceptual framework to help us understand decision-making in chronic diseases such as end stage renal disease. We also highlight a need to critically examine how patients make decisions on survival versus QOL and the relationship of their decisions to their illness and treatment beliefs. Understanding the role of patients' belief systems can guide education interventions for medical professionals involved in their care in order to help them develop patient-centered, personalized treatment plans.