Impact of Staffing on Access to Palliative Care in U.S. Hospitals

J Palliat Med. 2015 Dec;18(12):998-9. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2015.0436. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Background: Over the past decade over two-thirds of U.S. hospitals have established palliative care programs. National data on palliative care program staffing and its association with operational outcomes are limited.

Objective: The objective of this report is to examine the impact of palliative care program staffing on access to palliative care in U.S. hospitals.

Methods: Data from the National Palliative Care Registry™ for 2014 were used to calculate staffing levels, palliative care service penetration, and time to initial palliative care consultation for 398 palliative care programs operating across 482 U.S. hospitals.

Results: Hospital-based palliative care programs reported an average service penetration of 4.4%. Higher staffing levels were associated with higher service penetration; higher service penetration was associated with shorter time to initial palliative care consultation.

Discussion: This report demonstrates that operational effectiveness, as measured by staffing and palliative care service penetration, is associated with shorter time to palliative care consultation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospital Units / organization & administration
  • Hospital Units / trends
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling*
  • Referral and Consultation / standards
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Registries
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Workforce