Palliative care in Norway: a national public health model

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2007 May;33(5):599-604. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2007.02.011.


Palliative care (PC) in Norway has evolved in close cooperation between the health authorities and health care professionals. A number of official reports and national plans have promoted a stepwise development of PC services on all levels of the public health care system: tertiary care, with palliative medicine units in university hospitals coupled with research groups and regional Units of Service Development; secondary care, with hospital-based consult teams, inpatient units, and outpatient clinics; and primary care, with home care and designated PC units in nursing homes. The regional Units of Service Development are specifically assigned to research, education, and audit, as well as to development and coordination of services. PC has been closely linked to cancer care and included in the national cancer strategy. Starting the organizational development at the tertiary level has been crucial for educational and audit purposes, and has provided an excellent basis for networking. The Norwegian strategy for PC has resulted in rapidly increasing quantity and quality of services, but several challenges are still pending. Further improvement of the financial reimbursement system is needed, in particular concerning the funding for PC units in nursing homes. There are also challenges related to expertise and training, including establishing a program for palliative nursing and getting palliative medicine recognized as a medical specialty.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Policy*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Models, Organizational
  • Norway
  • Palliative Care / history
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Public Health*