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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2013 Aug;46(2):254-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2012.07.018. Epub 2012 Nov 15.

Community-based palliative care: the natural evolution for palliative care delivery in the U.S.

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1
Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

Abstract

Palliative care in the U.S. has evolved from a system primarily reliant on community-based hospices to a combined model that includes inpatient services at most large hospitals. However, these two dominant approaches leave most patients needing palliative care-those at home (including nursing homes) but not yet ready for hospice-unable to access the positive impacts of the palliative care approach. We propose a community-based palliative care (CPC) model that spans the array of inpatient and outpatient settings in which palliative care is provided and links seamlessly to inpatient care; likewise, it would span the full trajectory of advanced illness rather than focusing on the period just before death. Examples of CPC programs are developing organically across the U.S. As our understanding of CPC expands, standardization is needed to ensure replicability, consistency, and the ability to relate intervention models to outcomes. A growing body of literature examining outpatient palliative care supports the role of CPC in improving outcomes, including reduction in symptom burden, improved quality of life, increased survival, better satisfaction with care, and reduced health care resource utilization. Furthermore the examination of how to operationalize CPC is needed before widespread implementation can be realized. This article describes the key characteristics of CPC, highlighting its role in longitudinal care across patient transitions. Distinguishing features include consistent care across the disease trajectory independent of diagnosis and prognosis; inclusion of inpatient, outpatient, long-term care, and at-home care delivery; collaboration with other medical disciplines, nursing, and allied health; and full integration into the health care system (rather than parallel delivery).

KEYWORDS:

Palliative care; community-based distribution; health care delivery

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