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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Palliative Care 1/2018

The ‘lived experience’ of palliative care patients in one acute hospital setting – a qualitative study

BMC Palliative Care > Ausgabe 1/2018
Anne Black, Tamsin McGlinchey, Maureen Gambles, John Ellershaw, Catriona Rachel Mayland



There is limited understanding of the ‘lived experience’ of palliative care patient within the acute care setting. Failing to engage with and understand the views of patients and those close to them, has fundamental consequences for future health delivery. Understanding ‘patient experience’ can enable care providers to ensure services are responsive and adaptive to individual patient need.


The aim of this study was to explore the ‘lived experience’ of a group of patients with palliative care needs who had recently been in-patients in one acute hospital trust in the north-west of England.
Qualitative research using narrative interviews was undertaken, and data was analysed using thematic analysis. A sample of 20 consecutive patients complying with the inclusion/exclusion criteria were recruited and interviewed.


Patient Sample:
Of the 20 patients recruited, there was a fairly equal gender split; all had a cancer diagnosis and the majority were white British, with an age range of 43–87 years.
Findings from Interviews:
Overall inpatient experience was viewed positively. Individual narratives illustrated compassionate and responsive care, with the patient at the centre. Acts of compassion appeared to be expressed through the ‘little things’ staff could do for patients, i.e., time to talk, time to care, humanity and comfort measures. AHSPCT involvement resulted in perceived improvements in pain control and holistic wellbeing. However, challenges were evident, particularly regarding over-stretched staff and resources, and modes of communication, which seemed to impact on patient experience.


Listening to patients’ experiences of care across the organisation provided a unique opportunity to impact upon delivery of care. Further research should focus on exploring issues such as: why some patients within the same organisation have a positive experience of care, while others may not; how do staff attitudes and behaviours impact on the experience of care; transitions of care from hospital to home, and the role of social networks.
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