Runacres F, Poon P, King S, Lustig J, Ugalde A.
The global population is ageing, and rates of multimorbidity and chronic illness are rapidly rising. Given specialist palliative care has been shown to improve overall care and reduce health care costs, how best to provide this care to older people is internationally significant.
To examine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of geriatricians in providing palliative care and working with specialist palliative care services. We also aimed to capture self-reported barriers, confidence and satisfaction in providing palliative care.
A prospective cross-sectional study surveying Australasian geriatricians was conducted.
This was a voluntary anonymous online survey, distributed to all full members of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine.
A total of 168 completed responses were received; 58.3% were female and 36.6% had over 20 years of clinical experience. Most geriatricians (85%) reported caring for patients in their last 12 months of life represented a substantial aspect or most of their practice. Geriatricians overwhelmingly believed they should coordinate care (84%) and derived satisfaction from providing palliative care (95%). The majority (69%) believed all patients with advanced illness should receive concurrent specialist palliative care. Regarding knowledge, participants scored an average of 13.5 correct answers out of 18 in a Modified Palliative Care Knowledge Test.
Geriatricians find reward in providing generalist palliative care to their patients; however, potential exists for improved collaborations with specialist palliative care services. An evidence base for geriatric patients who benefit most from specialist palliative care services is needed to improve resourcing, collaborative practice and ultimately palliative care delivery.
Keywords: geriatric medicine; health services; knowledge; older adults; palliative care; palliative medicine; qualitative research; survey.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Geriatrics Society. All rights reserved.