Healthcare professionals' experiences of inter-professional collaboration during patient's transfers between care settings in palliative care: A focus group study.


Authors: Fien Mertens, Zoë Debrulle, Evelyn Lindskog, Luc Deliens, Myriam Deveugele, Peter Pype

Palliative medicine (2020)


Continuity of care is challenging when transferring patients across palliative care settings. These transfers are common due to the complexity of palliative care, which has increased significantly since the advent of palliative care services. It is unclear how palliative care services and professionals currently collaborate and communicate to ensure the continuity of care across settings, and how patient and family members are involved.


To explore healthcare professionals' experiences regarding the communicative aspects of inter-professional collaboration and the involvement of patient and family members.


Qualitative design, including focus group discussions.


The study focused on one palliative care network in Belgium and involved all palliative care settings: hospital, hospital's palliative care unit, home care, nursing home. Nine group discussions were conducted, with diverse professionals ( = 53) from different care settings.


Timely and effective inter-professional information exchange was considered fundamental. A perceived barrier for interprofessional collaboration was the lack of a shared electronic health record. Efficiency regarding multidisciplinary team meetings and inter-professional communication were subject to improvement.A striking study finding was the perceived insufficient open communication of specialists towards patients and the lack of shared decision making. This not only hampered advance care planning discussions and early integration of palliative home care, but also the functioning of other professionals.


From the perspective of the integrated care framework, several areas of improvement on different levels of care and collaboration are identified. Support from policymakers and researchers is required to achieve integrated palliative care in regional networks.

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