The 'critical mass' survey of palliative care programme at ESMO designated centres of integrated oncology and palliative care

Journal Paper/Review - Sep 1, 2017


Hui D, Cherny N, Latino N, Strasser F. The 'critical mass' survey of palliative care programme at ESMO designated centres of integrated oncology and palliative care. Ann Oncol 2017; 28:2057-2066.
Journal Paper/Review (English)
Ann Oncol 2017; 28
Publication Date
Sep 1, 2017
Issn Electronic
Brief description/objective

The ESMO Designated Centres (ESMO-DCs) of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care (PC) Incentive Programme has grown steadily. We aimed to characterise the level of PC clinical services, education and research at ESMO-DCs.

We sent all 184 ESMO-DCs an electronic survey consisting of 78 questions examining the DC characteristics, palliative care clinical programme (structure, processes, and outcomes), primary PC delivery by oncologists, education, research and attitudes and beliefs towards the ESMO-DC programme.

The response rate was 83% (152/184). 115 (76%) ESMO-DCs were from Europe, 87 (57%) were tertiary care centres. 136 (90%) had inpatient consultation teams, 135 (89%) had outpatient PC clinics, 107 (71%) had dedicated acute care beds, and 75 (50%) offered community-based PC. An estimated 70% (interquartile range [IQR] 28-80%) of patients with advanced cancer had a PC consultation before death, occurring 90 days before death (median, IQR 40-150 days) for outpatients and 21 days (IQR 14-45 days) for inpatients. 59 (39%) offered PC fellowship programme; 47 (32%) had mandatory PC rotations for oncology fellows. Ninety-nine (65%) had double-boarded palliative oncologists. 118 (78%) of the ESMO-DCs reported that routine symptom screening was offered in the oncology clinic and 30% of patients had documented end-of-life discussions by their oncologists. Most centres (>80%) perceived the ESMO-DC programme to increase their status.

The ESMO-DCs had a high level of PC infrastructure and provided access to a large proportion of patients with advanced cancer. The survey supports that the 13 criteria required for ESMO designation set a robust framework for integration, stimulated investment of resources into some palliative care programmes prior to accreditation, and raised the interest about palliative care among clinicians, trainees and patients.