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Barriers and Approaches to the Successful Integration of Palliative Care and Oncology Practice

Jamie H. Von Roenn, Raymond Voltz, and Alain Serrie

As management of patients with cancer is evolving, an increased focus is being placed on individualized patient-centered care. Early integration of palliative care into the overall management of patients with cancer can help achieve this paradigm shift. Despite recommendations for earlier integration of palliative care by national and international societies, several barriers remain to achieving this goal. Survey studies have indicated a significant need for increased education regarding palliative care for both medical undergraduates and postgraduate physicians. Key issues in the early integration of palliative care include relationship-building across multiple health systems and specialties; development of a standardized definition of palliative care, making clear that it should be fully integrated with cancer-directed therapy; identification of physician and nonphysician champions; standardization of tools for patient assessment; education programs designed to meet the needs of health care professionals; and ongoing evaluation to assess program benefits and limitations.

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Provision of Palliative Care and Pain Management Services for Oncology Patients

Paolo Marchetti, Raymond Voltz, Carmen Rubio, Didier Mayeur, and Andreas Kopf

Early initiation of palliative care to address pain and other symptoms offers the potential to improve quality of life for patients with cancer. The approaches to implementing and delivering palliative care and pain management services vary depending on patient needs, available resources, provider training, and clinical setting. This article describes the experiences in developing programs in which the need for early palliative care or pain management services for patients with cancer was recognized. In each case, collaborative efforts, careful planning, administrative support, and ample time were needed to implement such services. To tailor services based on the available resources, different approaches were taken, including structuring of services within oncology units; creation of an integrated partnership between oncology and palliative care departments; establishment of a multidisciplinary comprehensive service; and incorporation of nurse-based pain services to address acute, chronic, and cancer pain. These examples offer insights into how to optimize delivery of services in a variety of settings with varying resources.