Palliative Cancer Care in Brazil: The Perspective of Nurses and Physicians

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Abstract

Background:

Palliative care is a recent development in health worldwide. In Brazil, a growing number of people with cancer require palliative care, emphasizing the need for investment in this aspect of health to increase the quality of life of patients during the dying process. As a developing country, Brazil lacks knowledge regarding the themes, material and financial resources, and policies of palliative care.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to provide insights into the Brazilian palliative care system from the perspectives of nurses and physicians.

Methods:

This was a descriptive and qualitative study, conducted at the palliative care unit of the Instituto Nacional de Câncer in Brazil. Twelve professionals, among them 8 nurses and 4 physicians, were interviewed in November 2013. The data were analyzed using the thematic analysis method. Ethical aspects were respected.

Results:

The perspectives of the participants were characterized by 3 themes regarding the initial phase of development of palliative cancer care in Brazil: (1) controversies about when palliative cancer care should be initiated, (2) the World Health Organization recommendations and current practices, and (3) the need to invest in palliative cancer care education in Brazil.

Conclusions:

The development of palliative care is in the initial stages, and there is a possibility for growth due to recent advances.

Implications for Practice:

Knowledge about these challenges to palliative care could contribute to the development of strategies, such as the establishment of service organizations and networks, as well as educational and political investments for the advancement of palliative care.

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