BMJ Support Palliat Care 4:285-290 doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2013-000488
  • Research

Development and evaluation of the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT): a mixed-methods study

  1. Kirsty Boyd1
  1. 1Palliative Care Service, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2Primary Palliative Care Research Group, Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Medical School, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kirsty Boyd, Palliative Care Service, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, 51 Little France Crescent, Edinburgh EH16 4SA, UK; kirsty.boyd{at}


Objective To refine and evaluate a practical, clinical tool to help multidisciplinary teams in the UK and internationally, to identify patients at risk of deteriorating and dying in all care settings.

Methods We used a participatory research approach to refine the 2010 Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) and evaluate its use in clinical practice. We conducted an ongoing peer review process for 18 months via an open access webpage, and engaged over 30 clinicians from the UK and internationally in developing an effective tool. Secondly, we carried out a prospective case-finding study in an acute hospital in SE Scotland. Four multidisciplinary teams identified 130 patients with advanced kidney, liver, cardiac or lung disease following an unplanned hospital admission.

Results The SPICT was refined and updated to consist of readily identifiable, general indicators relevant to patients with any advanced illness, and disease-specific indicators for common advanced conditions. Hospital clinicians used the SPICT to identify patients at risk of deteriorating and dying. Patients who died had significantly more unplanned admissions, persistent symptoms and increased care needs. By 12 months, 62 (48%) of the identified patients had died. 69% of them died in hospital, having spent 22% of their last 6 months there.

Conclusions The SPICT can support clinical judgment by multidisciplinary teams when identifying patients at risk of deteriorating and dying. It helped identify patients with multiple unmet needs who would benefit from earlier, holistic needs assessment, a review of care goals, and anticipatory care planning.

  • Received 27 March 2013.
  • Revision received 12 June 2013.
  • Accepted 2 July 2013.
  • Published Online First 25 July 2013

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