What are the needs of hospitalized palliative patients?

Many patients receive palliative care in a health center despite a wish to stay home. Thus, some members of our research group along with Swedish colleges carried out a study to describe and compare symptoms, care needs and types of diagnoses in hospitalized patients with palliative care needs in Spain and Sweden.

The proportion of patients with care needs in Spain was 7.7% and in Sweden 12.4%. The most prevalent symptoms in cancer and non-cancer patients in both countries were deterioration, pain, fatigue and infection.

The most common cancer diagnosis in both countries was lung cancer. Congestive heart failure was a predominant non-cancer diagnosis in Sweden, whereas in Spain, the most frequent diagnosis was dementia. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was common in both countries.

In total, patients with cancer had higher frequencies of pain and nausea, whereas non-cancer patients had higher frequencies of deterioration and infections.

This study show us that the similarities in symptoms among the patients indicate that the focus in care should be on patient care needs rather than diagnoses. Integrating palliative care in hospitals and increasing healthcare professional competency can result in providing optimal palliative care.

The full text is available in this link: Sandgren A, García-Fernández FP, Gutiérrez Sánchez D, Strang P, López-Medina IM. Hospitalised patients with palliative care needs: Spain and Sweden compared. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2020. doi:10.1136/ bmjspcare-2020-002417

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