Background: Palliative care is not accessed by all those who can benefit from it. Survey aim: To explore awareness of palliative care and related services among UK oncology out-patients, and to analyse the relationship between demographic characteristics and knowledge.
Design: Cross-sectional interview-based survey. Analysis comprised univariate and multiple logistic regression.
Participants and settings: Oncology out-patients receiving curative treatments at two district general hospitals in north-west London between December 2004 and April 2005.
Results: A total of 252 (94%) eligible clinic patients were interviewed. Only 47 (18.7%) patients recognised the term 'palliative care', but 135 (67.8%) understood the role of the hospice, and 164 (66.7%) understood the role of Macmillan nurses. Age-adjusted multiple logistic regression showed that recognizing the term 'palliative care' was more likely among the most socially and materially affluent patients than those who were the poorest (OR: 8.4, CI: 2.17-31.01, p =0.002). Understanding the role of Macmillan nurses was also more likely among the most socially and materially affluent patients compared with the poorest patients (OR: 7.0, CI: 2.41-18.52, p <0.0001), and was independently less likely among patients from black and minority ethnic groups than those who were classified as being white British (OR=0.5, CI:0.25-0.96, p =0.04).
Conclusions: Awareness of palliative care and related services was low among black and minority ethnic groups, and the least affluent.