Author: Gaëlle Vanbutsele
Palliative care has evolved from a philosophy of care for dying patients to a professional discipline with expertise in symptom management, psychosocial and spiritual care, support for informal carers, complex decision making and end-of-life care. The World Health Organization stresses that palliative care is applicable early in the course of the illness, together with other therapies that are intended to prolong life. However, in routine clinical practice, specialized palliative care is often initiated late in the disease trajectory.
Aims and methods
By using quantitative survey methods and a randomized controlled trail, this dissertation gives insight into (1) the challenges of palliative care in oncology regarding symptom management (e.g. depression), and referral practices to specialist palliative care and (2) the benefits of early and systematic integration of palliative care in oncology for patients and their informal carers in the Belgian health care setting.
The findings in this dissertation can be used to increase the awareness of the benefits of palliative care and to develop and promote timely and systematic integration of specialized palliative care in oncology.