A specialist community palliative care team (SCPCT) may have a positive effect on the reduction of acute hospital admission in adult patients requiring end-of-life care (EOLC), according to a recent systematic review.
However, because palliative care is a complex intervention, results are not conclusive, study researchers wrote.
In the review, researchers looked at eight studies looking at the effect of a SCPCT on hospital admission at the end of life. SCPCT was defined as a minimum of one specialist doctor and one specialist nurse.
Data from the eight selected studies reported that when SCPCT’s cared for patients that required end-of-life care, there was a reduction in the admission rates to acute hospital settings in comparison to those who received standard of care. In some studies, this reduction was estimated to be more than 30% in the last year of life.
Although all eight studies reported this reduction, only five reported a statistically significant P value, the researchers noted.
Additionally, SCPCT also had a positive influence on emergency department use, with one study reporting up to a 50% reduction for patients with SCPCT care compared with those who did not. Looking at hospital death rates, one study showed that 39% of patients receiving SCPCT died in hospital compared with 74.8% of those who did not receive this care.
“Due to the heterogeneous nature of the palliative care population, make up of community teams, EOLC care timeframes studied, and reporting of results, it was not possible to combine all the individual results in a meta-analysis,” the researchers wrote. “The results of this review provide a platform for the development of future research questions that will ultimately enhance the care of adult palliative care patients requiring EOLC and that of their families through the appropriate direction of resources and development of services based on evidence.”