Barriers to the Collaboration Between Hematologists and Palliative Care Teams on Relapse or Refractory Leukemia and Malignant Lymphoma Patients' Care: A Qualitative Study

Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2016 Dec;33(10):977-984. doi: 10.1177/1049909115611081. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


Background: Palliative care service (PCS) has been shown to be utilized less in patients with leukemia and malignant lymphoma than in those with solid tumors. Previous studies have suggested hematologists' limited awareness of PCS as one of the reason for low PCS referral in hematology. However, little is known about such an awareness and potential barriers to collaboration between hematologists and PCS.

Aim: The present study aimed to assess ematologists and palliative care specialists' perception about the roles of the hospital-based palliative care team (HPCT) and the barriers to collaboration between hematologists and palliative care teams on relapse or refractory leukemia and malignant lymphoma patients' care MATERIALS AND METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted using semistructured interviews with hematologists and palliative care specialists recruited from a hospital that provides hematology and palliative care by the HPCT. Data were evaluated via content analysis.

Results: The study included 11 hematologists and 10 palliative care specialists. Our results revealed that they shared many common perceptions about the roles and expectations of the HPCT. Additionally, 7 categories of barriers to collaboration were identified, including not feeling the need to refer, the difficulty in referral timing, the lack of aggressive approach, the negative image of the HPCT, the need for hematologic malignancy-oriented management, the lack of communication, and others.

Conclusion: We have identified hematologists' and palliative care specialists' perceptions of the HPCT's roles and the barriers to their collaboration. A better understanding of such barriers may lead to effective collaboration between hematologists and the HPCT.

Keywords: communication barriers; leukemia; lymphoma; palliative care; palliative care team; referral and consultation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Communication
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Hematology / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / psychology
  • Leukemia / therapy
  • Lymphoma / psychology
  • Lymphoma / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Qualitative Research
  • Recurrence