Trends analysis of specialized palliative care services in 51 countries of the WHO European region in the last 14 years

Palliat Med. 2020 Sep;34(8):1044-1056. doi: 10.1177/0269216320931341. Epub 2020 Jun 10.


Background: Service provision is a key domain to assess national-level palliative care development. Three editions of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Atlas of Palliative Care monitored the changes in service provision across Europe since 2005.

Aim: To study European trends of specialized service provision at home care teams, hospital support teams, and inpatient palliative care services between 2005 and 2019.

Design: Secondary analysis was conducted drawing from databases on the number of specialized services in 2005, 2012, and 2019. Ratios of services per 100,000 inhabitants and increase rates on number of services for three periods were calculated. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) analyses were conducted to determine significant changes and chi-square to identify countries accounting for the variance. Income-level and sub-regional ANOVA analysis were undertaken.

Setting: 51 countries.

Results: Forty-two countries (82%) increased the number of specialized services between 2005 and 2019 with changes for home care teams (104% increase-rate), inpatient services (82%), and hospital support teams (48%). High-income countries showed significant increase in all types of services (p < 0.001), while low-to-middle-income countries showed significant increase only for inpatient services. Central-Eastern European countries showed significant improvement in home care teams and inpatient services, while Western countries showed significant improvement in hospital support and home care teams. Home care was the most prominent service in Western Europe.

Conclusion: Specialized service provision increased throughout Europe, yet ratios per 100,000 inhabitants fell below the EAPC recommendations. Western Europe ratios' achieved half of the suggested services, while Central-Eastern countries achieved only a fourth. High-income countries and Western European countries account for the major increase. Central-Eastern Europe and low-to-middle-income countries reported little increase on specialized service provision.

Keywords: Europe; Palliative care; development; national-level; provision; public health; specialized services; trends.

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Home Care Services*
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Palliative Care*
  • World Health Organization