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Perception of palliative medicine by health care professionals at a teaching community hospital: what is the key to a “palliative attitude”?

Authors Cheung NY, Gorelik A, Mehta P, Mudannayake L, Ramesh A, Bharathan T, Goldenberg G

Received 2 August 2018

Accepted for publication 6 March 2019

Published 5 June 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 437—443


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Video abstract presented by Dr Goldenberg.

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Nga Yu Cheung, Anna Gorelik, Parag Mehta, Louis Mudannayake, Arundati Ramesh, Thayyllathil Bharathan, Gregory Goldenberg

Department of Medicine, New York Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Background: With growing expense in chronic illness and end-of-life (EOL) care, population-based interventions are needed to reduce the health care cost and improve patients’ quality of life. The authors believe that promotion of palliative medicine is one such intervention and this promotion depends on the acceptance of palliative medicine concepts by health care professionals.
Aims of the studies: Perception of palliative medicine in chronic illness and in EOL care by health care professionals was learned in two studies carried out at a teaching community hospital 14 years apart.
Participants and methods: Voluntary and anonymous surveys were randomly distributed among physicians, nurses, and social workers/case managers. Participants in the two studies presented two different groups of health care providers.
Results of the studies: Results of the two studies were essentially similar. On most of the issues, respondents’ perceptions were consistent with palliative medicine concepts and confidence in palliation grew over the 14-year period. The authors call this approach a “palliative attitude.” Physicians with greater experience performed better in care planning. Younger physicians were more perceptive to withdrawal of care in futile cases. Participants’ religion had no influence on perception of palliative medicine. Attendance of educational activities did not influence attitudes of health care professionals. Health care providers who favored involvement of palliative care teams in patients’ management were better in care planning, interpretation of the DNR consent, use of opioids at the EOL, use of intensive care, and evaluation of the disease trajectory.
Conclusion: The authors conclude that direct interaction between palliative and interdisciplinary teams in clinical practice is the key factor in the education of health care professionals, in the development of a “palliative attitude,” and in the promotion of palliative medicine.

Keywords: health care professionals, end-of-life care, chronic illness, palliative care concepts, palliative attitude

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