Background: A recent international consensus panel identified 13 major indicators to assess the level of integration between oncology and palliative care. We examined these indicators among European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Designated Centres (ESMO-DCs) of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care (PC) and determined the centre characteristics associated with greater integration.
Methods: This is a preplanned secondary analysis of a recent survey to characterise the structure, processes and outcomes of the palliative care programmes at ESMO-DCs. We assessed the level of integration using 13 major indicators. We calculated two Palliative Care and Oncology Integration Indexes consisting of all 13 indicators (PCOI-13, range 0-13) and 9 of the 13 indicators (PCOI-9, range 0-9), with a higher index indicating greater integration.
Results: The survey response rate was 152/184 (83%). Among the 13 major indicators, interdisciplinary team was most likely to be achieved (95%), while early referral to palliative care (median time from referral to death >6 months before death) was only present in 24 (20%) of ESMO-DCs. The median PCOI-13 was 7.8 (IQR 6.4-9.6) and the median PCOI-9 was 6 (IQR 5-7). The presence of dually trained palliative oncologists was associated with higher PCOI-13 (median 8.4 vs 7.0; p=0.01) and PCOI-9 (median 6 vs 5; p=0.03). Non-tertiary hospitals generally had higher PCOI-13 (median 8.6 vs 7.2; p=0.01) and ESMO-DCs outside of Europe had higher PCOI-9 (median 7 vs 6; p=0.03).
Conclusions: Assessment of the level of integration at ESMO-DCs with PCOIs highlighted strengths, areas for further development and how double-boarded palliative oncologists may promote integration.
Keywords: access and evaluation; delivery of healthcare; health care quality; integrated; palliative care.