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      Palliative Care Experience in the Last 3 Months of Life: A Quantitative Comparison of Care Provided in Residential Hospices, Hospitals, and the Home From the Perspectives of Bereaved Caregivers


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          This study captured the end-of-life care experiences across various settings from bereaved caregivers of individuals who died in residential hospice.


          A retrospective, observational design using the CaregiverVoice survey with bereaved caregivers of patients in 22 hospices in Ontario, Canada. The survey assessed various dimensions of the patient’s care experiences across multiple care settings in the last 3 months of life.


          A total of 1153 caregivers responded to the survey (44% response rate). In addition to hospice care, caregivers reported that 74% of patients received home care, 61% had a hospitalization, 42% received care at a cancer center, and 10% lived in a nursing home. Most caregivers (84%-89%) rated the addressing of each support domain (relief of physical pain, relief of other symptoms, spiritual support, and emotional support) by hospice as either “excellent” or “very good.” These proportions were less favorable for home care (40%-47%), cancer center (46%-54%), and hospital (37%-48%). Significantly, better experiences were reported for the last week of life where hospice was considered the main setting of care, opposed to other settings ( P < .0001 across domains). Overall, across settings pain management tended to be the highest-rated domain and spiritual support the lowest.


          This is one of few quantitative examinations of the care experience of patients who accessed multiple care settings in the last months of life and died in a specialized setting such as residential hospice. These findings emphasize the importance of replicating the hospice approach in institutional and home settings, including greater attention to emotional and spiritual dimensions of care.

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          A comparison of the quality of care provided to cancer patients in the UK in the last three months of life in in-patient hospices compared with hospitals, from the perspective of bereaved relatives: results from a survey using the VOICES questionnaire.

          The importance of evaluating systematically the effectiveness of hospice care has been noted for at least 20 years. There is, however, limited evidence about whether and how the care provided to terminally ill patients by in-patient hospices in the UK differs from that provided in NHS hospitals. In this article, we, therefore, present a comparison of hospice in-patient care and hospital care for cancer patients in the UK, from the perspective of bereaved relatives who had experienced both types of care during the last 3 months of the patient's life. The Office of National Statistics drew a random sample of 800 deaths in South London in 2002, and sent the person who registered the death (the informant) a Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services (VOICES) questionnaire 3-9 months after the death, with up to two reminders. There was a response rate of 48%. For this analysis, 40 cancer patients whose informant reported both a hospice in-patient admission and a hospital admission in the last 3 months of life were identified. Informants answered the same questions about each admission and responses on these were compared. There were statistically significant differences between respondents' views of hospice and hospital care on eight out of 13 variables measuring aspects of satisfaction with care, with a trend towards statistical significance on a further two: in all cases respondents rated hospice care more positively than hospital care. There were no differences in the experience of pain and breathlessness in the two settings, but respondents rated pain control by the hospice as more effective. In comparison to hospital care, from the perspective of bereaved relatives, hospice in-patient care provided better pain control, better communication with patients and families, and better medical, nursing and personal care, which treated the patient with more dignity. Further research is needed to confirm these findings using a wider sample of in-patient hospices in the UK and including the perspectives of patients. Providing high quality care for terminally ill patients in acute hospitals remains an important challenge.
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            Patient and family experiences of palliative care in hospital: what do we know? An integrative review.

            In most developed countries, acute hospitals play a significant role in palliative care provision and are the setting in which most people die. They are often the setting where a life-limiting diagnosis is made and where patients present when symptoms develop or when they are not well managed. Understanding the experiences of hospital admissions for people with a life-limiting illness and their families is essential in understanding the role acute hospitals play in providing palliative care. The aim of this review is to synthesise current evidence regarding the experience of palliative care in an acute hospital setting from the perspectives of patient and family. An integrative review was completed using standard processes followed by a process of data extraction and synthesis. Using predefined search terms, literature was sourced from five electronic databases including MEDLINE (EBSCO), CINAHL, EMBASE, Cochrane and PsycINFO between January 1990 and November 2011. Reference lists from relevant articles were cross-checked and pertinent journals hand searched for articles. In total, 32 articles were included in the review. Five recurring themes were identified from the synthesised data: symptom control and burden, communication with health professionals, decision-making related to patient care and management, inadequate hospital environment and interpersonal relationships with health professionals. This review has identified that, largely as a result of study design, our knowledge of patient and family experiences of palliative care in an acute hospital remains limited to discrete aspects of care. Further research is required to explore the total patient and family experience taking into account all aspects of care including the potential benefits of hospital admissions in the last year of life.
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              Variability in access to hospital palliative care in the United States.

              Hospital palliative care programs provide high-quality, comprehensive care for seriously ill patients and their families. To examine geographic variation in patient and medical trainee access to hospital palliative care and to examine predictors of these programs. Primary and secondary analyses of national survey and census data. Hospital data including hospital palliative care programs were obtained from the American Hospital Association (AHA) Annual Survey Databasetrade mark for fiscal year 2006 supplemented by mailed surveys. Medical school-affiliated hospitals were obtained from the American Association of Medical Colleges, Web-site review, and telephone survey. Health care utilization data were obtained from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care 2008. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify characteristics significantly associated with the presence of hospital palliative care. A total of 52.8% of hospitals with 50 or more total facility beds reported hospital palliative care with considerable variation by state; 40.9% (144/352) of public hospitals, 20.3% (84/413) of for-profit hospitals, and 28.8% (160/554) of Medicare sole community providers reported hospital palliative care. A total of 84.5% of medical schools were associated with at least one hospital palliative care program. Factors significantly associated (p < 0.05) with hospital palliative care included geographic location, owning a hospice program, having an American College of Surgery approved cancer program, percent of persons in the county with a university education, and medical school affiliation. For-profit and public hospitals were significantly less likely to have hospital palliative care when compared with nonprofit institutions. States with higher hospital palliative care penetration rates were observed to have fewer Medicare hospital deaths, fewer intensive care unit/cardiac care unit (ICU/CCU) days and admissions during the last 6 months of life, fewer ICU/CCU admission during terminal hospitalizations, and lower overall Medicare spending/enrollee. This study represents the most recent estimate to date of the prevalence of hospital palliative care in the United States. There is wide geographic variation in access to palliative care services although factors predicting hospital palliative care have not changed since 2005. Overall, medical students have high rates of access to hospital palliative care although complete penetration into academic settings has not occurred. The association between hospital palliative care penetration and lower Medicare costs is intriguing and deserving of further study.

                Author and article information

                Am J Hosp Palliat Care
                Am J Hosp Palliat Care
                The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care
                SAGE Publications (Sage CA: Los Angeles, CA )
                14 June 2017
                March 2018
                : 35
                : 3
                : 456-463
                [1 ]Department of Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
                [3 ]Escarpment Cancer Research Institute, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
                Author notes
                [*]Daryl Bainbridge, PhD, Juravinski Cancer Centre, Rm 4-214, 699 Concession St, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8V 5C2. Email: bainbridgd@ 123456hhsc.ca
                © The Author(s) 2017

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

                Funded by: Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, FundRef https://doi.org/10.13039/501100000226;
                Award ID: 2011-0006
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