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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1999 Feb;17(2):114-9.

Methodological challenges for measuring quality of care at the end of life.

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Center for Survey Research, University of Massachusetts at Boston 02125-3393, USA.


Measurement is a fundamental step in improving the quality of care for dying patients and their families. Yet, there are important methodological challenges to be addressed. In conducting surveys about the patient and family experience, research is needed regarding the relative merits and cost-effectiveness of prospective or retrospective surveys after the patient's death. Proxies are an important source of information given that the majority of patients can not be interviewed in the last week of life. Research is needed to understand who is best able to serve as a proxy and the validity of their reports. The cost-effectiveness and comparability of alternative data collection strategies need to be examined. These and other important issues need to be addressed in designing reliable, valid, and clinically manageable measures.

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