Knowledge of Palliative Care Among American Adults: 2018 Health Information National Trends Survey

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2019 Jul;58(1):39-47.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2019.03.014. Epub 2019 Mar 26.


Context: Palliative care will play an important role to alleviate disease suffering and improve quality of life for cancer patients and their family caregivers.

Objective: We examined the knowledge penetration of palliative care in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults.

Methods: We used the 2018 National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey to determine the proportion of respondents who had knowledge of palliative care as well as the depth and sources of their knowledge. We used the Pearson chi-square test and a multivariable logistic regression model to assess the association of respondents' basic demographic characteristics as well as health status and having knowledge of palliative care.

Results: We identified 3194 respondents (weighted sample size: 229,591,005) who met the inclusion criteria. About 71% (2097) of all respondents had no knowledge of palliative care and 84.5% of Hispanic respondents had no knowledge of palliative care. Multivariable analyses indicated the middle-aged (50-64 years old, odds ratio, 1.58; 95% CI, 1.15-2.19, P = 0.006) and elder population (65 years or older, odds ratio, 1.70, 95% CI, 1.30-2.22, P < 0.001) have a significantly better knowledge of palliative care than those under age 50. Common misconceptions existed in respondents, even those who had self-reported adequate knowledge of palliative care.

Conclusion: The proportion of adults who have knowledge of palliative care is low in the U.S. Greater efforts are needed to promote palliative care and reduce the misconceptions of palliative care in the general population.

Keywords: HINTS; Palliative care; knowledge; misconception.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hospice and Palliative Care Nursing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms
  • Palliative Care*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States