Can multidisciplinary guidelines improve the palliation of symptoms in the terminal phase of dementia?

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2002 Aug;8(8):370-5. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2002.8.8.10680.


Dementia is a progressive terminal disease. More than 95% of patients will require 24-hour care either in long-stay hospital wards or in nursing homes at the end of life. There are many issues in the care of patients with dementia that parallel palliative cancer care, but relatively few patients with dementia currently access palliative care. Following an initial audit that found that many patients dying with dementia had symptoms that were not palliated, multidisciplinary guidelines were developed jointly by medical and nursing staff working in psychiatry for older people, together with pharmacy and palliative care staff. Following the implementation of guidelines, there was a significant decrease in the prescribing of antibiotics in the last 2 weeks of life and patients were much more likely to be prescribed analgesia, including opiates. This small study suggests that when developed collaboratively, multidisciplinary guidelines can have a positive impact on palliative care for non-oncology patients.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dementia / nursing
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Terminal Care / methods*


  • Analgesics
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents