Does it matter what you call it? A randomized trial of language used to describe palliative care services
Integration of palliative care into oncology practice remains suboptimal. Misperceptions about the meaning of palliative care may negatively impact utilization.
We assessed whether the term and/or description of palliative care services affected patient views.
2x2 between-subject randomized factorial telephone survey of 169 patients with advanced cancer. Patients were randomized into one of four groups that differed by name (supportive care vs. palliative care) and description (patient-centered vs. traditional). Main outcomes (0–10 Likert scale) were patient understanding, impressions, perceived need, and intended use of services.
When compared to palliative care, the term supportive care was associated with better understanding (7.7 vs. 6.8; p = 0.021), more favorable impressions (8.4 vs. 7.3; p = 0.002), and higher future perceived need (8.6 vs. 7.7; p = 0.017). There was no difference in outcomes between traditional and patient-centered descriptions. In adjusted linear regression models, the term supportive care remained associated with more favorable impressions (p = 0.003) and higher future perceived need (p = 0.022) when compared to palliative care.
Patients with advanced cancer view the name supportive care more favorably than palliative care. Future efforts to integrate principles of palliative medicine into oncology may require changing impressions of palliative care or substituting the term supportive care.
- Does it matter what you call it? A randomized trial of language used to describe palliative care services
Supportive Care in Cancer
Volume 21, Issue 12 , pp 3411-3419
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg
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- Palliative care
- Supportive care
- Advanced cancer
- Industry Sectors
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Doris Duke Clinical Research Fellow, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 2. Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Palliative Care and Medical Ethics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 3. Division of Hematology–Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 4. Department of Biostatistics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 5. Clinical Research, Investigation and Systems Modeling of Acute Illness (CRISMA) Center, Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 6. Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
- 7. Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 230 McKee Place, Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA