BMJ Support Palliat Care 3:196-199 doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2012-000334
  • Short report

Public health approaches to end-of-life care in the UK: an online survey of palliative care services

  1. Libby Sallnow3,4
  1. 1Strathcarron Hospice, Denny, Stirlingshire, UK
  2. 2Department of Social Work, School of Social and Political Science, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK
  3. 3St Joseph's Hospice, London, UK
  4. 4Centre for Population Health Sciences, School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Sally Paul, Strathcarron Hospice, Randolph Hill, Denny, Stirlingshire, FK6 FHJ, UK; sally.paul{at}


Aims and objectives The public health approach to end-of-life care has gained recognition over the past decade regarding its contribution to palliative care services. Terms, such as health-promoting palliative care, and compassionate communities, have entered the discourse of palliative care and practice; examples exist in the UK and globally. This scoping study aimed to determine if such initiatives were priorities for hospices in the UK and, if so, provide baseline data on the types of initiatives undertaken.

Methods An online survey was designed, piloted and emailed to 220 palliative care providers across the four UK countries. It included a total of six questions. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were analysed thematically.

Findings There was a 66% response rate. Of those providers, 60% indicated that public health approaches to death, dying and loss were a current priority for their organisation. Respondents identified a range of work being undertaken currently in this area. The most successful were felt to be working with schools and working directly with local community groups. The findings demonstrate the relevance of a public health approach for palliative care services and how they are currently engaging with the communities they serve. Although the approach was endorsed by the majority of respondents, various challenges were highlighted. These related to the need to balance this against service provision, and the need for more training and resources to support these initiatives, at both national and community levels.

  • Received 18 July 2012.
  • Revision received 17 January 2013.
  • Accepted 29 January 2013.
  • Published Online First 22 February 2013

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