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Review
, 26 (5), 722-33

What Is the Methodological Rigour of Palliative Care Research in Long-Term Care Facilities in Europe? A Systematic Review

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Review

What Is the Methodological Rigour of Palliative Care Research in Long-Term Care Facilities in Europe? A Systematic Review

Gwenda Albers et al. Palliat Med.

Abstract

Background: The European population is rapidly ageing, resulting in increasing numbers of older people dying in long-term care facilities. There is an urgent need for palliative care in long-term care facilities.

Aim: The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on palliative care research in long-term care facilities in Europe with respect to how the palliative care populations were described, and to determine the study designs and patient outcome measures utilized.

Methods: We used a systematic literature review. The search strategy included searches of PubMed, Embase and PsychINFO databases from 2000 up to May 2010, using search terms related to 'palliative care' and 'end-of-life care' combined with search terms related to 'long-term care'. We selected articles that reported studies on patient outcome data of palliative care populations residing in a long-term care facility in Europe.

Results: This review demonstrated that there are few, and mainly descriptive, European studies on palliative care research in long-term care facilities. Fourteen studies were retained in the review, of which eight were conducted in the Netherlands. None of these studies described their study population specifically as a palliative care or end-of-life care population. Retrospective and prospective designs were applied using many different measurement instruments. Most instruments were proxy ratings. Symptom (management) was the most frequently measured outcome.

Conclusion: To improve future research on palliative care in long-term care facilities, agreement on what can be considered as palliative care in long-term care facilities and, the availability of well-developed and tested measurement instruments is needed to provide more evidence, and to make future research more comparable.

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