A systematic review of specialised palliative care for terminal patients: which model is better?

Palliat Med. 2009 Jan;23(1):17-22. doi: 10.1177/0269216308099957. Epub 2008 Nov 27.


There is evidence of improved effectiveness of specialised palliative care for terminally ill patients in comparison to conventional care. However, there is uncertainty about which model is better. The objective of this systematic review was to identify studies that compare specialised palliative care models between them assessing their effectiveness or cost-effectiveness. We searched studies published between 2003 and 2006 in several electronic databases and updated the search in MEDLINE up to 2008. Papers published before 2003 were identified by means of previous systematic reviews and manual search. Studies with broad designs comparing two or more specialised palliative care programmes in adults with terminal illness were selected. Six systematic reviews, three studies on effectiveness and one cost study were included. All systematic reviews drew the conclusion that specialised palliative care is more effective than conventional care. The methodological limitations of the original studies and the heterogeneity of programmes did not allow to draw conclusions about whether a specific model of specialised palliative care is more or less effective or cost-effective than other.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis / economics
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / economics
  • Palliative Care / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards
  • Terminal Care / economics
  • Terminal Care / standards*
  • Terminally Ill*