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J Palliat Med. 2019 Apr 30. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2018.0656. [Epub ahead of print]

Awareness of Palliative Care among a Nationally Representative Sample of U.S. Adults.

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Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland.


Background: Palliative care can alleviate symptom burden, reduce psychosocial distress, and improve quality of life for patients suffering from serious or life-threatening illnesses. However, the extent to which U.S. adults are aware of or understand the goals and benefits of palliative care is not well understood. Public awareness of palliative care is necessary to change norms and create demand, and as such, limited awareness may be a significant barrier to palliative care uptake. An assessment of current palliative care awareness in the United States is needed to inform the health care sector's improving palliative care communication and delivery. Objective: To examine the prevalence of palliative care awareness among a nationally-representative sample of U.S. adults and to identify sociodemographic and health-related characteristics associated with palliative care awareness. Design: Weighted data from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 5, Cycle 2 [2018], N = 3445) were used to produce frequencies of the characteristics, and associations with palliative care awareness were determined through multiple logistic regression. Results: An estimated 71% of U.S. adults reported having never heard of palliative care. Older individuals, those with higher educational attainment, women, and whites (vs. nonwhites) had greater odds of palliative care awareness. Conclusions: These data suggest there is limited awareness of palliative care in the United States, despite its documented benefits. Addressing this awareness gap is a priority to change norms around using palliative care services. Community- and population-based interventions are necessary to raise awareness and inform the public about palliative care.


end of life; palliative care; quality of life


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