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J Palliat Med. 2018 Jul;21(7):999-1004. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2017.0441. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

What We Do: Key Activities of an Outpatient Palliative Care Team at an Academic Cancer Center.

Author information

1
1 Symptom Management Service, Department of Medicine, University of California , San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
2
2 Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine , Chicago, Illinois.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Outpatient palliative care (PC) has been shown to positively impact quality of life and decrease healthcare utilization, but there are limited data describing what activities render these benefits.

OBJECTIVE:

Describe the topics addressed by an outpatient PC team during scheduled visits.

DESIGN:

Longitudinal cohort study.

SETTING:

The Symptom Management Service, an ambulatory PC program at an academic comprehensive cancer center.

MEASUREMENT:

Between March 23, 2015 and June 14, 2016, outpatient PC providers completed a checklist after each clinic visit, documenting topics covered during the visit.

RESULTS:

During the study period, 1243 visits were conducted for 577 unique patients. Symptom management was the topic most commonly addressed during initial visits (in 92% of visits), followed by an introduction of PC (69%), support for family caregivers (47%), and communication with other clinicians (38%). Providers also supported patients to understand their prognosis (28%), treatment options (36%), and to make care decisions (22%). Formal advance care planning activities occurred infrequently, however, including designation of a Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare (26%), completion of an advance directive or Provider Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment form (10%), and discussing hospice (8%). Follow-up visits were dominated by symptom management (93%) and caregiver support (27%).

CONCLUSIONS:

Symptom management, support for family and caregivers, and care coordination are the most common activities that occurred during scheduled outpatient PC visits. These findings can guide developing PC practices, as well as clinicians who provide primary PC.

KEYWORDS:

advance care planning; caregiver support; healthcare delivery; outpatient palliative care; symptom management

PMID:
29431580
DOI:
10.1089/jpm.2017.0441

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