ElderlyPalliative/End of Life

Predicting doctors who refer to palliative care

PalliativeCareResearchers from the VA Connecticut Healthcare System, in West Haven tell us, “Outpatient palliative care can provide significant benefits to seriously ill patients, but several barriers to appropriate referrals remain.”

Will grandma’s doctor consider outpatient palliative care for her?

First, the details.

  • 170 primary care physicians were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire.
  • The participants worked for Kaiser Permanente, a large non-profit health maintenance organization.

And, the results.

  • Among 145 doctors who completed the questionnaire, 100 (70%) reported referring patients to a palliative care program in the past year.
    • There ranged between 2 to 6 referrals.
  • Factors associated with referral.
    • Working at Kaiser Permanente between 10 and 20 years compared to less than 10 years
    • Having personal experience with palliative care
  • There were no other factors associated with referrals in this study.

The bottom line?
Based on these findings, it appears that increasing their visibility in the outpatient setting could be an effective way for outpatient palliative care programs to increase referrals by primary care physicians.

10/26/09 20:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.