How much does palliative care cost? What are the costs for the patients and families? What are the most cost-effective ways to provide a palliative care service? Information about the costs of care is of perennial interest – not only to those who deliver it and fund it, but also to those who receive it. A thorough investigation of this information can be hard to do, because it is located in many different areas: it is not just found in scholarly databases but is also incorporated in websites, conference papers, blog posts, and other “grey literature” areas.
In October 2015, CareSearch launched a Costs of Care resource. This is a one-stop-shop section of the website for accessing a range of information about the costs of palliative care. We have provided a suite of links to both scholarly and general information, together with additional information to help users find what they need.
The scholarly information is accessed by links to the PubMed database, using searches constructed using the CareSearch Palliative Care Search Filter (a validated search strategy for accessing palliative care literature) combined with an external economics search filter (the CADTH narrow economics search). We gratefully acknowledge permission to use this CADTH filter. We tested several existing costs and economics search filters and found the best results from this combination, for the costs of care from a system and service delivery viewpoint.
We have also provided links to an expertly-constructed search for costs of care for patients and families. These searches use the Palliative Care Search Filter. The power of the search filters helps to ensure that the information retrieved is relevant; using PubMed, a freely accessible database, means that the results are current and anyone with access to the web can click on the links and get trusted search results. Through PubMed we can target only the results that link to articles available free, in full, online – this can be very useful for those who don’t have access to paid subscriptions and want to read articles immediately.
Other scholarly articles on the costs of palliative care will be found in journals not indexed in PubMed and we have provided links for ready-constructed and tested searches in Google Scholar and such databases as EconLit and Scopus (some databases will require you to have institutional access, but where possible we have provided free ones). Where possible, we have provided links to execute a search when clicked, taking you straight to current results. If that is not technically possible, we have suggested search terms to use.
Beyond the scholarly information typically found in published journals, we have provided a guided Google search to assist in targeting the literature that is not formally published, but is available online. This literature may take the form of a document on a government website, a blog post, a conference paper or presentation, or even a Twitter post.
Finally, we have listed key journals in this area, and links to two excellent free online guides to searching for costs of care information.
This is an important area and a challenging one for finding evidence. As with any other area of health care, and indeed service and policy generally, knowing what the evidence says is vital to decision making and research. We hope that by providing a set of tools, tailored to different needs and contexts, we have assisted our users to find that valuable information. We welcome feedback, questions and comments to help us improve the service.
Sarah Hayman is a Research Fellow (Evidence), Flinders Filters at Flinders University,