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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2006 Jun;31(6):522-32.

Resource consumption and costs of palliative care services in Spain: a multicenter prospective study.

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Palliative Care Service (X.G.-B., A.T., E.C., J.P.-S., J.E.), and Cancer Epidemiology Unit (X.C.), Institut Català d'Oncologia, Barcelona, Spain.


Patients (n=395) with terminal-stage cancer receiving attention from palliative care services (PCSs) were recruited over a period of 15 consecutive days from 171 participating PCS units. Resource consumption and costs were evaluated for 16 weeks of follow-up, and the findings were compared with a study conducted in 1992 so as to assess change over time. The most frequent health care interventions were homecare visits, hospital admissions, and patient-consultant phone calls. PCS provided 67% of all services and consultation interventions in 91% of patients. Compared with the historical data, there was a significant shift from the use of conventional hospital beds toward palliative care beds, a reduced hospital stay (25.5-19.2 days; P=0.002), an increase in the death-at-home option (31%-42%), a lower use of hospital emergency rooms (52%-30.6%; P=0.001), and an increase in programmed care. Compared to the previous resource consumption and expenditure study in 1992, the current PCS policy implies a cost saving of 61%, with greater efficiency and no compromise of patient care.

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