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Interstitial lung disease and specialist palliative care access: a healthcare professionals survey


Background Fibrotic interstitial lung disease is an incurable disease with poor prognosis. We aimed to understand factors affecting decisions regarding referrals to specialist palliative care services and to address barriers and facilitators to referrals from healthcare professionals’ perspectives.

Methods A survey study of healthcare professionals, including respiratory physicians, interstitial lung disease nurse specialists, respiratory nurse specialists and palliative care physicians, was conducted using a questionnaire, entailing 17 questions.

Results Thirty-six respondents, including 15 interstitial lung disease nurse specialists completed the questionnaire. Symptom control, psychological/spiritual support, general deterioration and end-of-life care were the most common reasons for referrals to specialist palliative care services. Most respondents felt confident in addressing palliative care needs and discussing palliative care with patients. A few participants emphasised that experienced respiratory nurse specialists are well placed to provide symptom management and to ensure continuity of patient care. Participants reported that access to palliative care could be improved by increasing collaborative work between respiratory and palliative care teams.

Conclusions Most respondents felt that enhancing access to specialist palliative care services would benefit patients. However, palliative care and respiratory care should not be considered as mutually exclusive and multidisciplinary approach is recommended.

  • clinical decisions
  • respiratory conditions
  • communication
  • education and training

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