Measuring what matters: top-ranked quality indicators for hospice and palliative care from the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 Apr;49(4):773-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.01.012. Epub 2015 Feb 16.


Context: Measuring quality of hospice and palliative care is critical for evaluating and improving care, but no standard U.S. quality indicator set exists.

Objectives: The Measuring What Matters (MWM) project aimed to recommend a concise portfolio of valid, clinically relevant, cross-cutting indicators for internal measurement of hospice and palliative care.

Methods: The MWM process was a sequential consensus project of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). We identified candidate indicators mapped to National Consensus Project (NCP) Palliative Care Guidelines domains. We narrowed the list through a modified Delphi rating process by a Technical Advisory Panel and Clinical User Panel and ratings from AAHPM and HPNA membership and key organizations.

Results: We narrowed the initial 75 indicators to a final list of 10. These include one in the NCP domain Structure and Process (Comprehensive Assessment), three in Physical Aspects (Screening for Physical Symptoms, Pain Treatment, and Dyspnea Screening and Management), one in Psychological and Psychiatric Aspects (Discussion of Emotional or Psychological Needs), one in Spiritual and Existential Aspects (Discussion of Spiritual/Religious Concerns), and three in Ethical and Legal Aspects (Documentation of Surrogate, Treatment Preferences, and Care Consistency with Documented Care Preferences). The list also recommends a global indicator of patient/family perceptions of care, but does not endorse a specific survey instrument.

Conclusion: This consensus set of hospice and palliative care quality indicators is a foundation for standard, valid internal quality measurement for U.S.

Settings: Further development will assemble implementation tools for quality measurement and benchmarking.

Keywords: Palliative care; advance care planning; hospice care; pain measurement; patient satisfaction; quality indicators; quality of health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consensus
  • Hospice Care / methods*
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care*
  • Societies, Medical
  • Societies, Nursing
  • United States