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The impact of the environment on patient experiences of hospital admissions in palliative care


Objective To explore the impact of environment on experiences of hospitalisation from the perspective of patient's with palliative care needs.

Methods A qualitative study design using longitudinal semistructured, face-to-face interviews were used to elicit the views of patients with palliative care needs admitted to hospital in 1 large urban acute hospital in New Zealand. The sample comprised of 14 patients admitted to hospital between July 2013 and March 2014 who met one of the Gold Standard Framework Prognostic Indicators for palliative care need.

Results Almost all participants described a range of factors associated with the environment which impacted negatively on their experiences of hospitalisation. This included challenges with the physical surroundings, the impact on social relationships with other patients, families and health professionals and the influence of the cultural milieu of the hospital setting.

Conclusions Emulating the ‘ideal’ environment for palliative care such as that provided in a hospice setting is an unrealistic goal for acute hospitals. Paying attention to the things that can be changed, such as enabling family to stay and improving the flexibility of the physical environment while improving the social interplay between patients and health professionals, may be a more realistic approach than replicating the hospice environment in order to reduce the burden of hospitalisations for patients with palliative care needs.

  • Hospital care
  • Environment
  • Hospitalization
  • Palliative care

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