In this systematic review we examined the extent of palliative care integration in guidelines and pathways for cancer patients . Our results revealed that the level of integration of PC in cancer guidelines in Europe is moderate with referral criteria being the least well defined. Even though the illness trajectory for cancer is fairly well understood, several studies indicate that available referral criteria are either too general or too difficult to implement into clinical practice. In addition, it is observed that there is little attention paid to the “early” integration of PC.
As a next step, we extended our review to examine guidelines developed and published by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) . In this ongoing study, we found that the majority of cancer guidelines focused on reducing the physical suffering of the patients and did not provide any other information on how to integrate PC. The level of PC integration was considered very low for the guidelines screened and there was no reference to when PC should be initiated. However our analysis revealed one guideline that corresponded to a high level of PC integration . This guideline could be used as a benchmark for the development of future guidelines.
Written by: Van Beek K, Siouta N, Payne S, Hasselaar J
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