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Study shows strong interest in palliative care programs, services and integration vary across nation
Date:3/17/2010

program compared to 78 percent of non-NCI cancer centers.

Hui also said that the survey showed tremendous support for palliative care services and integration from executives and program leaders from both groups, but executives noted that third-party reimbursement for such services and limited resources were barriers to delivering more and better care. They also found that research programs, palliative care fellowships and mandatory rotations for oncology fellows were uncommon.

More specifically, the survey showed that 92 percent of NCI-designated centers had at least one palliative care physician compared to 74 percent of non-NCI designated centers. As for inpatient palliative care consultation teams, 92 percent of NCI centers had such a team compared with 56 percent of non-NCI centers. Of NCI-designated centers, 59 percent had outpatient palliative care clinics while 22 percent of non-NCI centers offered services through such a clinic. Only 23 percent of cancer centers had dedicated acute care beds while 37 percent of centers had an in-house hospice.

"This study shows great progress over the last few years with centers seeing the benefit of palliative care, as heterogeneous as it is," said Hui. "Now that there is a better idea of what the obstacles are for centers, the field can work to make improvements."

Hui said that one indication of limited access and integration of services is the time that it took the centers to refer patients to palliative care. The study found that the median duration from referral to death was seven days for inpatient consultation teams, seven days for palliative care units and 90 days for outpatient clinics.

"Our study showed that patients and their families were being referred to palliative care often too late in their journeys when the full value of palliative care may not be realized. Much more work remains to be done to improve the quality of care for our patients," he said.


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Contact: Julie Penne
jpenne@mdanderson.org
713‑792‑0662
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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