Background:It is estimated that in 2050 one quarter of the population in Europe will be aged 65 years and older. Although the added value of a palliative care team is emphasized in the literature, the impact of the palliative care team on the symptom burden in older non-cancer patients is not yet well established.Objectives:To structurally measure symptoms and to investigate whether proactive consultation with a palliative care team results in improvement of symptoms.Design:This study has a prospective comparative design.Setting/Participants:Older patients, admitted to a Dutch University Medical Centre for who a health care professional had a negative response to the Surprise Question, were selected.Measurements, Results:In period one, 59 patients completed the Utrecht Symptom Diary (USD) at day one of admission and after 7 days. In period 2 (n = 60), the same procedure was followed; additionally, the palliative care team was consulted for patients with high USD-scores. Significant improvement on the USD Total Distress Score (TSDS) was observed in both groups without a difference between the 2 periods. This study showed an association between consultation of the palliative care team and improvement on USD TSDS (adjusted odds ratio: 4.9; 95% confidence interval: 1.816-13.198), despite low follow-up rate of advices (approximately 50%).Conclusions:This study emphasizes the importance of creating awareness for consulting the palliative care team. Further research should focus on assessing the reason behind the low follow-up rate of the advice given and understanding the specific advices contributing to symptom improvement.
- palliative care
- terminal care
- comparative effectiveness research