Current challenges in palliative care provision for heart failure in the U.K. A survey on the perspectives of palliative care professionals

Cheang, M.H. et al. Current challenges in palliative care provision for heart failure in the UK. Openheart Online – 16 January 2015


Reported rates of collaboration in three different cohorts—all respondents, consultants and non-consultant staff.

Objective: Palliative care (PC) in heart failure (HF) is beneficial and recommended in international HF guidelines. However, there is a perception that PC is underutilised in HF in the UK. This exploratory study aims to investigate, from a PC perspective, this perceived underutilisation and identify problems with current practice that may impact on the provision of PC in HF throughout the UK.

Methods: A prospective survey was electronically sent to PC doctors and nurses via the UK Association for Palliative Medicine and adult PC teams listed in the UK Hospice directory.

Results: We received 499 responses (42%—PC consultants). Although PC provision for patients with HF was widespread, burden on PC services was low (47% received less than 10 referrals annually). While PC was acknowledged to have a role in end-stage HF, there were differing views about the optimal model of care. Levels of interdisciplinary collaboration (58%) and mutual education (36%) were low. There were frequent reports that end-of-life matters were not addressed by cardiology prior to PC referral. Moreover, 24% of respondents experienced difficulties with implantable cardioverter defibrillator deactivation.

Conclusions: Low HF referrals despite widespread availability of PC services and insufficient efforts by cardiology to address PC issues may contribute to the perception that PC is underutilised in HF. The challenges facing PC and HF identified here need to be further investigated and addressed. These findings will hopefully promote awareness of PC issues in HF and encourage debate on how to improve PC support for this population.

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