Objectives This study aimed to measure the magnitude of palliative care needs among hospital inpatients. Objectives were to: (1) determine the point prevalence of inpatients with active life-limiting disease and (2) describe multidimensional need for palliative care among these patients.
Methods The study was a hospital inpatient census in Uganda. Patient notes were surveyed and those patients identified as having an active life-limiting disease were interviewed. Multidimensional palliative care need was assessed using the African Palliative Care Association (APCA) African Palliative Outcome Scale (POS).
Results 122/267 (46%) patient notes were found to indicate an active life-limiting disease. Diagnoses were; HIV/AIDS (74/122, 61%), cancer (22/122, 18%), heart failure (11/122, 9%), renal failure (11/122, 9%), liver failure (3/122, 2%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (1/122, 1%). A total of 78/122 patients consented to be interviewed. Most patients reported multidimensional need in the three most negative of six categories for any APCA African POS question (75/78, 96%). Social problems included an inability to work (72/78, 92%), having unaffordable medical expenses (39/78, 50%) and limited access to food (11/78, 14%). Of those with a faith (76/78), more than a third (29/78, 38%) expressed the need for increased faith support.
Conclusions The prevalence of active life-limiting disease reported here (46%) is greater than in comparable European studies (5–23%).This reflects the sub-Saharan increased disease prevalence, presentation at a later stage and limited access to curative therapies. There is need for symptom control, food, financial assistance and spiritual support. Service development should be tailored to meet these needs.
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Competing interests None.
Ethics approval Approval provided by the Makerere University Research and Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.