The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
HB carried out the study design, data analysis and drafted the manuscript. BBH participated in the study design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. LJ conceived the design of the study, commented on the data analysis and contributed to the manuscript in collaboration with the first and second authors. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that palliative care is provided to all patients with life-threatening illnesses. Generalist palliative care should therefore be acknowledged and organized as a part of the clinical tasks. However, little is known about the organization and evaluation of generalist palliative care in hospitals. Therefore the aim of the study was to investigate the organization and evaluation of generalist palliative care in a large regional hospital by comparing results from existing evaluations.
Results from three different data sets, all aiming to evaluate generalist palliative care, were compared retrospectively. The data-sets derived from; 1. a national accreditation of the hospital, 2. a national survey and 3. an internal self-evaluation performed in the hospital. The data were triangulated to investigate the organization and evaluation of palliative care in order to identify concordances and/or discrepancies.
The triangulation indicated poor validity of the results from existing methods used to evaluate palliative care in hospitals. When the datasets were compared, several discrepancies occurred with regard to the organization and the performance of generalist palliative care. Five types of discrepancies were found in 35 out of 56 sections in the fulfilment of the national accreditation standard for palliative care. Responses from the hospital management and the department managements indicated that generalist palliative care was organized locally – if at all – within the various departments and with no overall structure or policy.
This study demonstrates weaknesses in the existing evaluation methods for generalist palliative care and highlights the lack of an overall policy, organization and goals for the provision of palliative care in the hospital. More research is needed to focus on the organization of palliative care and to establish indicators for high quality palliative care provided by the hospital. The lack of valid indicators, both for the hospital’s and the departments’ provision of palliative care, calls for more qualitative insight in the clinical staff’s daily work including their culture and acceptance of the provision of palliative care.
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