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J Oncol Pract. 2017 Sep;13(9):e703-e711. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2017.021048. Epub 2017 Aug 7.

Practice Patterns, Attitudes, and Barriers to Palliative Care Consultation by Gynecologic Oncologists.

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Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ; Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Weill Cornell Medicine; and Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY.



We sought to describe practice patterns, attitudes, and barriers to the integration of palliative care services by gynecologic oncologists.


Members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology were electronically surveyed regarding their practice of incorporating palliative care services and to identify barriers for consultation. Descriptive statistics were used, and two-sample z-tests of proportions were performed to compare responses to related questions.


Of the 145 respondents, 71% were attending physicians and 58% worked at an academic medical center. The vast majority (92%) had palliative care services available for consultation at their hospital; 48% thought that palliative care services were appropriately used, 51% thought they were underused, and 1% thought they were overused. Thirty percent of respondents thought that palliative care services should be incorporated at first recurrence, whereas 42% thought palliative care should be incorporated when prognosis for life expectancy is ≤ 6 months. Most participants (75%) responded that palliative care consultation is reasonable for symptom control at any stage of disease. Respondents were most likely to consult palliative care services for pain control (53%) and other symptoms (63%). Eighty-three percent of respondents thought that communicating prognosis is the primary team's responsibility, whereas the responsibilities for pain and symptom control, resuscitation status, and goals of care discussions were split between the primary team only and both teams. The main barrier for consulting palliative care services was the concern that patients and families would feel abandoned by the primary oncologist (73%). Ninety-seven percent of respondents answered that palliative care services are useful to improve patient care.


The majority of gynecologic oncologists perceived palliative care as a useful collaboration that is underused. Fear of perceived abandonment by the patient and family members was identified as a significant barrier to palliative care consult.

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