Palliative Care Clinicians' Views on Metrics for Successful Specialist Palliative Care Delivery in the ICU

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2024 Jul;68(1):78-85.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2024.04.010. Epub 2024 Apr 15.


Context: A quarter of palliative care (PC) clinicians' consultations are now requested from the intensive care unit (ICU). Despite this high usage, a standardized set of quality metrics for PC delivery in the ICU does not exist.

Objectives: To explore PC clinicians' views on how to best measure quality of care delivery in their role as a consultant in the ICU setting.

Methods: Secondary analysis of a parent dataset consisting of qualitative data from semi-structured interviews exploring ways to optimize PC clinicians' role in the ICU. Nineteen participants were recruited across five academic medical centers in the US. Participants included PC physicians (n = 14), nurse practitioners (n = 2), and social workers (n = 3). Thematic analysis with an inductive approach was used to generate themes.

Results: We identified two central themes: difficulties in measuring PC quality in the ICU (theme 1) and tension between the role of PC and metrics (theme 2). Theme 1 had two subthemes related to logistical challenges in measuring outcomes and PC clinicians' preference for metrics that incorporate subjective feedback from patients, family members, and the primary ICU team. Theme 2 described how PC clinicians often felt a disconnect between the goal of meeting a metric and their goals in delivering high-quality clinical care.

Conclusion: Our findings provide insight into PC clinician perspectives on quality metrics and identify major barriers that need to be addressed to successfully implement quality measurement in the ICU setting.

Keywords: Intensive care unit; Palliative care; Quality metrics.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Palliative Care*
  • Physicians
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Social Workers