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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003 Feb;25(2):150-68.

Is there evidence that palliative care teams alter end-of-life experiences of patients and their caregivers?

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Department of Palliative Care and Policy, Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College London, Weston Education Center, London, United Kingdom.


Palliative care provision varies widely, and the effectiveness of palliative and hospice care teams (PCHCT) is unproven. To determine the effect of PCHCT, 10 electronic databases (to 2000), 4 relevant journals, associated reference lists, and the grey literature were searched. All PCHCT evaluations were included. Anecdotal and case reports were excluded. Forty-four studies evaluated PCHCT provision. Teams were home care (22), hospital-based (9), combined home/hospital care (4), inpatient units (3), and integrated teams (6). Studies were mostly Grade II or III quality. Funnel plots indicated slight publication bias. Meta-regression (26 studies) found slight positive effect, of approximately 0.1, of PCHCTs on patient outcomes, independent of team make-up, patient diagnosis, country, or study design. Meta-analysis (19 studies) demonstrated small benefit on patients' pain (odds ratio [OR]: 0.38, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.23-0.64), other symptoms (OR: 0.51, CI: 0.30-0.88), and a non-significant trend towards benefits for satisfaction, and therapeutic interventions. Data regarding home deaths were equivocal. Meta-synthesis (all studies) found wide variations in the type of service delivered by each team; there was no discernible difference in outcomes between city, urban, and rural areas. Evidence of benefit was strongest for home care. Only one study provided full economic cost-benefit evaluation. This is the first study to quantitatively demonstrate benefit from PCHCTs. Such comparisons were limited by the quality of the research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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