Saturday, July 3, 2010
Palliative Care or Supportive Care? Which Would You Prefer? (Research, Video 3:04)
Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?
I have met quite a few people who don’t have a clue as to what palliative care is. Some are even in the healthcare profession. To add to the confusion, many who do know what it is refer to palliative care using various pronunciations (sound pronunciation). Then there are those healthcare organizations such as the American cancer centers that have adopted use of the name palliative care but continue to get referrals late for those needing it. Is this due to an association of the name palliative care with hospice care? Would all these problems regarding the name palliative care be resolved by just replacing the name with a more user friendly one such as supportive care?
Obviously, the name palliative care carries several barriers that need to be explored. That’s why this research caught my interest. This study by the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas reports how the name palliative care versus the name supportive care may impact cancer patient referrals.
Can a name be a barrier to patient referrals for care? Medical oncologists and their midlevel providers (advance practice nurses and physician assistants) at a comprehensive cancer center think so. 140 out of 200 of them participated in a survey to determine the impact of the name palliative care compared with the name supportive care on patient referrals and to determine whether there was an association between demographic factors and the perceptions of the two names. What were the results?
1) The name palliative care compared with the name supportive care was perceived more frequently by medical oncologists and midlevel providers as a barrier to referrals, decreasing hope, and causing distress in patients and families.
2) Participants significantly preferred the name supportive care compared with palliative care. They also stated more likelihood to refer patients on active primary and advanced cancer treatments to a service named supportive care.
While these results are not surprising, where does this leave the name palliative care? Is this a matter of educating the public more to the meaning and appreciation of what palliative care can provide? Or is this a matter of phasing out usage of the term palliative care with patients and replacing it with the name supportive care? What do you think?
This video explains palliative care: “Palliative Care: What is it and who is it for?”
Frances Shani Parker, Author