Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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 ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 252--257

Integration of early specialist palliative care in cancer care and patient related outcomes: A critical review of evidence


1 Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Integrative Oncology, HCG Bangalore Institute of Oncology, Bangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Palliative Care Specialist, Karunashraya Hospice, Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Naveen Salins
Department of Palliative Medicine, Tata Memorial Centre, Mumbai, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0973-1075.185028

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Introduction: World Health Organization and American Society of Clinical Oncology recommend early integration of specialist palliative care in patients with cancer. This paper focuses on critical review of evidence on integration of early specialist palliative care in cancer care and patient-related outcomes. Methods: The question for the literature search was - Does integration of early specialist palliative care in cancer care influences patient-related outcomes? 31 articles related to literature search review question were included in this paper. Results: Ten patient-related outcomes of early specialist palliative care in adult cancer care was studied. Studies by Temel et al. (2012), Bakitas et al. (2009), Zimmermann et al. (2014), Rugno et al. (2014), Lowery et al. (2013) and Walker et al. (2014) showed early specialist palliative care improves health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Studies by Pirl et al. (2012), Lowery et al. (2013), and Walker et al. (2014) showed early specialist palliative care improved mood depression and anxiety. Studies by Zimmermann et al. and Rugno et al. (2014) showed symptom control benefit of early specialist palliative care. Studies by Temel (2010), Bakitas (2015) and Rugno et al. (2014) showed survival improvement with early specialist palliative care. All these studies were carried in ambulatory palliative care setting. No survival benefit of palliative care intervention was seen in inpatient palliative care setting. The studies by Geer et al. (2012), Rugno et al. (2014), and Lowery et al. (2013) showed that early palliative care intervention positively influences treatment decision making. All the studies showed that palliative care intervention group received less intravenous chemotherapy in last few weeks of life. Studies by Yoong et al. and Temel et al. (2011) shows early specialist palliative care improves advanced care planning. Studies by Temel et al. (2010), Greer et al. (2012), McNamara et al. (2013), Hui et al. (2014), and Kwon et al.(2013) showed that early specialist palliative care improves health care utilization, planned discharge, less emergency room visits, and better hospice utilization. Studies by Wiese et al. (2013), Hui et al. (2014) and Temel et al. (2010) showed that early specialist palliative care improves end-of-life care outcomes. Study by Rugno et al. (2014) showed that early specialist palliative care improves health-related communication. Studies by Wallen et al. (2012) and Zimmermann et al. (2014) shows early specialist palliative care improves patient and family satisfaction. There is a lack of robust evidence at present to support role of early specialist palliative care interventions in pediatric and geriatric oncology. Qualitative studies have demonstrated few negative outcomes of early specialist palliative care intervention. Conclusions: In adult oncology, there is evidence to suggest early specialist palliative care improves HRQOL, mood, treatment decision-making, health care utilization, advanced care planning, patient satisfaction, and end-of-life care. There is moderate evidence to support the role of early specialist palliative care intervention in improvement of symptoms, survival, and health-related communication. There is limited evidence at present to support role of early specialist palliative care interventions in pediatric and geriatric oncology. Qualitative studies on barriers and negative patient outcomes may provide useful insights toward restructuring early specialist palliative care interventions.






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