Background High quality end-of-life care is required to ensure the care patients receive in acute settings meets their needs, but end-of-life care needs are not always adequately assessed on admission. The use of appropriate assessment tools that guide clinical decision-making and care planning could improve care and enable rapid transfer to the preferred place of care. This paper reports the findings of a literature review which investigates the use of end-of-life care assessment tools in acute hospitals.
Methods This scoping review adopted a three-step search strategy using five databases. 760 citations were generated and following the PRISMA process, 55 full texts were assessed for eligibility and sixteen of these were identified as suitable for data synthesis. Data were retrieved from each paper and analysed thematically using Braun and Clark (2006). The assessment tools were critiqued to assess validity and reliability to determine which were the most feasible for use in the acute hospital setting. A further search was carried out to identify any reports of the use of the tools in clinical practice.
Results Sixteen papers published since 2000, reported the development and application of fifteen different assessment tools in acute hospitals. Of these, only five reported the use of assessment tools in acute clinical practice. Analysis identified four key issues - potential improvement to patient wellbeing, training on the usability of assessment tools, burden to patient and staff, and validity and reliability of the assessment tools.
Conclusions Only a limited number of end of life assessment tools have been developed and fewer have been tested in routine practice. Some of the assessment tools reported for use in the acute hospitals made a positive impact on patients‘ end-of-life care. Further research is necessary to understand how assessment tools can help assess end-of-life care needs and ultimately improve supportive care in the acute setting.
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