hand dialing telephone

PaCES-Automatic study

Automatic Palliative Care Referrals: Acceptability and Uptake by Patients with Advanced Lung Cancer

Are phone invitations to a palliative care consultation acceptable to patients with advanced
lung cancer?
This is the research question we aim to answer through the CIHR-funded 'PaCES-Automatic' project.

Background:

People living with advanced (incurable) cancer are not routinely provided with timely access to a therapy that is proven to help them feel better, reduce depression and anxiety, and support their quality of life. That therapy is palliative care. Patients, and those close to them, experience high levels of distress when faced with a life-limiting diagnosis, and often don’t know that palliative care can be received at the same time as cancer treatments as an added layer of support. Other barriers to timely access to palliative care include cancer clinic time constraints, healthcare provider concerns that referring patients to palliative care might
increase their distress, and cost of having a palliative care provider in every clinic. To overcome these barriers, our study asks “Can we develop a process so that everyone recently diagnosed with advanced cancer is automatically phoned by a palliative care provider and offered a consultation? Would patients find this phone call acceptable and how many would take up the offer of a comprehensive palliative care consultation?”

What will the study do?

We will work with patients and healthcare providers to design the process and appropriate language for these automatic referrals. We will then test the process, starting with people recently diagnosed with advanced (stage IV) lung cancer. We will interview patients about the acceptability of being called directly by a palliative care provider shortly after their advanced cancer diagnosis, and will measure how many patients attend a palliative care consultation.


Why do this? If acceptable, automatic referral will overcome existing barriers to palliative care referral and guarantee EVERY patient is offered early access to palliative care. If we find that direct phone contact is acceptable and leads to more people receiving timely palliative care, this will provide a routine, effective way to enhance the lives of all Canadians living with advanced cancers.