Barriers to effective symptom management in hospice

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The barriers to effective symptom management in hospice are not well described. We surveyed nurses of hospices affiliated with the Population-based Palliative Care Research Network (PoPCRN) to identify barriers to the effective management of common symptoms in terminally ill patients. 867/1710 (51%) nurses from 67 hospices in 25 U.S. States returned surveys. Of 32 symptoms, nurses reported agitation (45%), pain (40%), and dyspnea (34%) as the 'most difficult to manage.' The most common perceived barriers to effective symptom management were inability of family care providers to implement or maintain recommended treatments (38%), patients or families not wanting recommended treatments (38%), and competing demands from other distressing symptoms (37%). Patterns of barriers varied by symptom. These nurses endorsed multiple barriers contributing to unrelieved symptom distress in patients receiving hospice care. Interventions to improve symptom management in hospice may need to account for these differing barrier patterns. © 2005 U.S. Cancer Pain Relief Committee. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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