Limited time, limited access to secondary supports, and limited availability of effective case management are among the various barriers that hinder oncologists’ and nurses’ ability to provide the level of palliative care they would like to offer for their patients, a study reported at the 2014 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium in Boston, Massachusetts (Abstract #45). 

Researchers at University of Michigan Center for Clinical Management and Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, organized 11 focus groups consisting of oncologists and oncology nurses at 5 outpatient clinics in Southeast Michigan in order to identify barriers to providing effective palliative care to patients with cancer.

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Barriers identified included:

  1. time limitations for conversations of palliative care
  2. limited access to and difficult coordinating referrals to palliative care physicians, psychiatrists, and social workers
  3. limited availability of case management workers that coordinate patient visits

The researchers conclude that both oncologists and oncology nurses acknowledge the significance of palliative care for their patients, but multiple barriers impede clinicians from delivering high-quality palliative care to their patients in outpatient oncology clinics.