Background: Peripheral artery disease (PAD) encompasses conditions with poor outcome and severe suffering, both mentally and physically, yet utilization and research into palliative care interventions remain sparse. Objective: The purpose of this study is to identify existing evidence on palliative care intervention for chronic limb threatening ischaemia (CLTI) and abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). Design: We conducted a PROSPERO-registered systematic review of studies published between 1991 and 2020 in which people with PAD received palliative care interventions and at least one patient outcome was recorded. For the purpose of this study, a palliative care intervention was defined as one which aims primarily to reduce negative impact of PAD on patients' and/or caregivers' physical, emotional, psychological, social, or spiritual condition. Results: A total of 8 studies involving 87,024 patients met the inclusion criteria (4 cohort studies and 4 cross-sectional studies). Methodological quality ranged from low to moderate. The small number of studies and study heterogeneity precluded meta-analysis. Regarding our primary outcomes, only two articles recorded patient-reported outcomes. Five articles found an association between palliative care and reduction in health care utilization, a secondary outcome of the study. Most of the studies reported that palliative care was likely underused. Only two of the studies included non-hospital patients. Conclusion: Despite high mortality and morbidity associated with PAD, evidence of the effectiveness of palliative care in this group of patients is lacking. There are only a handful of articles on palliative care for people with PAD, and the majority are small, methodologically flawed and lack meaningful patient-reported outcomes. High-quality research of palliative care interventions in patients with PAD is urgently needed to better understand the impact of palliative care on quality of end of life and to develop and evaluate service-level interventions.
Keywords: aortic aneurysm; chronic limb threatening ischemia; critical limb ischemia; end of life; palliative care; peripheral artery disease; peripheral vascular disease.