Prediction of patient survival by healthcare professionals in a specialist palliative care inpatient unit: a prospective study

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. Apr-May 2008;25(2):139-45. doi: 10.1177/1049909107312594.


Accurate prognostication is an enormous challenge for professionals caring for patients with advanced disease. Few studies have compared the prognostic accuracy of different professional groups within a hospice setting. The aim of this study was to compare the ability of 5 professional groups to estimate the survival of patients admitted to a specialist palliative care unit. No group accurately predicted the length of patient survival more than 50% of the time. Nursing and junior medical staff were most accurate while care assistants were least accurate. When in error, senior clinical staff tended to under-estimate survival. Independent mobility on admission was the only variable predictive of length of survival. Thus, professional groups differ in their prognostic accuracy. An awareness of a group's propensity to over- or under-estimate prognosis should be incorporated into future work on prognostication models.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Bias
  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Consultants / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients* / classification
  • Inpatients* / statistics & numerical data
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate*
  • Karnofsky Performance Status
  • Length of Stay / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / psychology
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Nurse Administrators / psychology
  • Nursing Assessment / standards
  • Nursing Assistants / psychology
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment / standards
  • Time Factors