Context: Throughout Europe, there are major differences in the stages of development and in the types of service delivery of palliative care. Consensus on standards and norms for palliative care in Europe is needed for advocacy and health policy decision making.
Objectives: To provide an empirical basis for a common understanding of palliative care delivery in Europe.
Methods: A two-round, online consensus Delphi study was undertaken with a multiprofessional expert panel of board members of national hospice and palliative care associations in Europe.
Results: Respondents represented 80% of the member associations of the European Association for Palliative Care, comprising 96 experts and 35 national hospice and palliative care associations from 22 countries. High to very high consensus was found for common values and principles of palliative care (e.g., autonomy, dignity) and the provision of different levels of palliative care. Lower consensus emerged for concepts such as end-of-life care or terminal care, the demand of services and the composition of palliative care teams. The role of social workers was emphasized, but there was ambiguity about the contribution of psychologists. The need for health professionals without specialist palliative care skills to strengthen their contribution to palliative care provision was emphasized.
Conclusion: Overall, this study contributed to a higher level of consensus toward the proposed recommendations. Expert comments underlined the need for clearer definitions and specifications of terms and indicated important topics where cultural issues, geographical aspects, and the local health care setting have to be considered in palliative care.
Copyright © 2012 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.