Perspectives of Primary Care Providers Toward Palliative Care for Their Patients

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Abstract

Purpose:

The need for all providers to deliver basic palliative care has emerged as patients' needs outstrip the capacity of specialty palliative care. Many patients with complex illnesses have unmet needs and are seen in primary care more than other settings. We explore primary care providers' willingness and perceived capacity to provide basic palliative care, and their concerns and perceived barriers.

Methods:

We performed semistructured telephone interviews with 20 primary care providers about their perceptions of palliative care, including needs, practices, experiences, access, and what would be helpful for their practices to systematically provide basic palliative care.

Results:

We identified 3 major themes: (1) Participants recognize palliative needs in patients with complex problems. (2) They reactively respond to those needs using practice and community resources, believing that meeting those needs at a basic level is within the scope of primary care. (3) They can identify opportunities to improve the delivery of a basic palliative approach in primary care through practice change and redesign strategies used in enhanced primary care environments.

Conclusions:

Systematic attention along the multidimensional domains of basic palliative care might allow practices to address unmet needs in patients with complex illnesses by using existing practice improvement models, strategies, and prioritization.

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