Implications of a needs assessment intervention for people with progressive cancer: Impact on clinical assessment, response and service utilisation†‡

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Objective:To assess the impact of the systematic use of thePalliative Care Needs Assessment Guidelinesand Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease-Cancer (NAT: PD-C) on clinical assessment, response and service utilisation.Study setting:Three major oncology treatment centres in NSW, Australia.Study design:Between March 2007 and December 2009, 219 people with advanced cancer were recruited to complete bi-monthly telephone interviews. The intervention, introduced after at least two baseline interviews, involved training health professionals to complete the NAT: PD-C with patients approximately monthly.Data collection:Rates of service use and referrals were compared pre- and post-introduction of the NAT: PD-C. Rates of completion of the tool; its impact on consultation length; and the types of needs and follow-up care to address these were also assessed.Principal findings:The NAT: PD-C had a high rate of completion; identified needs consistent with those self-reported by patients in interviews; and did not alter consultation length. No changes in the number of health professionals seen by patients were found pre- and post-intervention.Conclusion:The NAT: PD-C is an efficient and acceptable strategy for supporting needs-based cancer care that can potentially be incorporated into standard routine care without increasing the burden on care providers.

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