Joining Together to Improve Outcomes: Integrating Specialty Palliative Care Into the Care of Cancer Patients

This article addresses the misconception that patients with cancer should undergo a definitive “transition” to palliative care at some point in their trajectory, and instead proposes that a gradual shift should occur from primary palliative care provided by the oncologist to specialty palliative care when the need exists. The goal is to help practitioners identify which patients are in need of specialty palliative care, suggest when oncologists should consider making a referral, and offer a model for sharing the responsibilities of care once palliative care clinicians become involved. This model enhances the patient and family experience through improving symptom control and quality of life, and may even prolong survival. It also minimizes patients’ perception of abandonment at the end of life, while reducing the risk of physician burnout in practicing oncologists. Lastly, the misconceptions of oncologists are addressed regarding how patients and families will accept the idea of a palliative care consultation, and suggestions are offered for responding to patient and/or family resistance to referral when it arises.

Target Audience

This activity has been designated to meet the educational needs of physicians, nurses, and pharmacists involved in the management of patients with cancer.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • Identify patients in need of specialty palliative care and develop a model for integrating specialty palliative care into the care of patients with cancer
  • List strategies for effectively communicating with patients and caregivers, including responding to resistance to referral for specialty palliative care
Additional information
Supporters: 

Supported by educational grants from sanofi-aventis U.S. and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Genentech, USA; and Lilly USA, LLC.

Course summary
Available credit: 
  • 1.25 Participation
  • 1.25 Nurse
  • 1.25 Pharmacist
  • 1.25 Physician
Course opens: 
10/04/2013
Course expires: 
08/31/2014
Cost:
$0.00

Maxwell T. Vergo, MD
Department of Medicine
Section of Palliative Care Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Lebanon, New Hampshire

Amelia M. Cullinan, MD
Department of Medicine
Section of Palliative Care Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Lebanon, New Hampshire

Available Credit

  • 1.25 Participation
  • 1.25 Nurse
  • 1.25 Pharmacist
  • 1.25 Physician

Accreditation Period

Course opens: 
10/04/2013
Course expires: 
08/31/2014

Price

Cost:
$0.00
Please login or register to take this course.

Required Hardware/software

To access this activity, users will need:

  • A device with an Internet connection
  • Adobe Reader or other PDF reader software for article and certificate viewing/printing