Background: More U.S. hospitals are adopting palliative care programs, prompting inquiry about the relationship of palliative care to patient and family satisfaction. This study compares the impact of palliative care units, palliative care consultation, and usual care on bereaved families' perceptions of care quality.
Methods: Using the Bereaved Family Survey we conducted interviews with family members of patients who died at Mount Sinai Medical Center between March 2012 and March 2013.
Results: Of 108 completed surveys, 31 were in the palliative care unit group, 28 in the consultation service group, and 49 in the usual care group. Family members of patients who died on the palliative care unit were more likely to report that their loved one's end-of-life medical care had been "excellent" as compared to family members of patients who received palliative care consultation or usual care (adjusted OR, 2.06; 95% CI, 1.17-3.61). Family members of palliative care unit patients also reported greater satisfaction with emotional support before the patient's death (adjusted OR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.01-2.90). We found no significant differences between the consultation service and usual care.
Conclusion: Family members of patients who died while receiving care in a dedicated palliative care unit report higher overall satisfaction and emotional support before death as compared to the consultation service or usual care.