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Comparative Study
, 17 (4), 310-4

Symptoms in 400 Patients Referred to Palliative Care Services: Prevalence and Patterns

Comparative Study

Symptoms in 400 Patients Referred to Palliative Care Services: Prevalence and Patterns

Jean Potter et al. Palliat Med.


The demographics and prevalence of symptoms in patients at first referral to the different components of palliative care services were identified by a retrospective case note study of 400 patients referred to three palliative care centres in London, UK: Michael Sobell House, Mount Vernon Hospital; The North London Hospice; St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospitals. One hundred consecutive referrals to each of the following service components were analysed: a hospice inpatient service; a community team; an NHS hospital support team and an outpatient service. A standardized proforma was used to collect the data. Ninety five per cent (380/400) of patients referred had a cancer diagnosis. The five most prevalent symptoms overall were pain (64%), anorexia (34%), constipation (32%), weakness (32%) and dyspnoea (31%), which is similar to other published reports. However, the commonest symptoms and their prevalence varied depending on the service component to which the patient was referred. Patients referred to hospice and community services had the highest symptom burden (mean number of symptoms per patient 7.21 and 7.13, respectively). This study suggests that different patient subgroups may have different needs in terms of symptoms, which will be relevant for the planning and rationalization of palliative care services.

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