Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 25, Issue 10, pp 3253–3259 | Cite as

Integration of oncology and palliative care: setting a benchmark

  • P. Vayne-Bossert
  • E. Richard
  • P. Good
  • K. Sullivan
  • J.R. HardyEmail author
Original Article



Integration of oncology and palliative care (PC) should be the standard model of care for patients with advanced cancer. An expert panel developed criteria that constitute integration. This study determined whether the PC service within this Health Service, which is considered to be fully “integrated”, could be benchmarked against these criteria.


A survey was undertaken to determine the perceived level of integration of oncology and palliative care by all health care professionals (HCPs) within our cancer centre. An objective determination of integration was obtained from chart reviews of deceased patients. Integration was defined as >70% of all respondents answered “agree” or “strongly agree” to each indicator and >70% of patient charts supported each criteria.


Thirty-four HCPs participated in the survey (response rate 69%). Over 90% were aware of the outpatient PC clinic, interdisciplinary and consultation team, PC senior leadership, and the acceptance of concurrent anticancer therapy. None of the other criteria met the 70% agreement mark but many respondents lacked the necessary knowledge to respond.

The chart review included 67 patients, 92% of whom were seen by the PC team prior to death. The median time from referral to death was 103 days (range 0–1347). The level of agreement across all criteria was below our predefined definition of integration.


The integration criteria relating to service delivery are medically focused and do not lend themselves to interdisciplinary review. The objective criteria can be audited and serve both as a benchmark and a basis for improvement activities.


Integration Oncology and palliative care Benchmarking Criteria for integration 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Prof Janet Hardy declares that she has sat on medical advisory boards of MundiPharma Pty Ltd. and Menarini Australia Pty Ltd. Any honoraria are directed to charity.

All other authors declare no conflict of interest.


Petra Vayne-Bossert was granted a travel and expense fund by the University Hospital of Geneva for a research fellow year (2015) in Brisbane, Australia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Vayne-Bossert
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Richard
    • 1
  • P. Good
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • K. Sullivan
    • 1
    • 3
  • J.R. Hardy
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Palliative and Supportive CareMater Health ServicesSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Palliative Medicine and ReadaptationUniversity Hospitals of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland
  3. 3.Mater Research–University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  4. 4.St Vincent’s Private Hospital BrisbaneBrisbaneAustralia

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