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Open Access Research article

Associations between successful palliative cancer pathways and community nurse involvement

Mette Asbjoern Neergaard12*, Peter Vedsted2, Frede Olesen2, Ineta Sokolowski2, Anders Bonde Jensen3 and Jens Sondergaard4

  • * Corresponding author: Mette A Neergaard man@alm.au.dk

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 The Palliative Specialist Team, Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Noerrebrogade, Aarhus, Denmark

2 The Research Unit for General Practice, University of Aarhus, Bartholin Allé, Aarhus, Denmark

3 Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital, Randersvej, Aarhus, Denmark

4 The Research Unit and Department for General Practice, University of Southern Denmark, J.B. Winsløws Vej, Odense, Denmark

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BMC Palliative Care 2009, 8:18  doi:10.1186/1472-684X-8-18

Published: 14 December 2009

Abstract

Background

Most terminally ill cancer patients and their relatives wish that the patient dies at home. Community nurses (CNs) are often frontline workers in the patients' homes and CN involvement may be important in attaining successful palliative pathways at home.

The aim of the present study was to examine associations between bereaved relatives' evaluation of palliative treatment at home and 1) place of death and 2) CN involvement.

Methods

The study is a population-based, cross-sectional combined register and questionnaire study performed in Aarhus County, Denmark. CN questionnaires were used to obtain data on CNs' efforts, GP-questionnaires were used to obtain data on pathway characteristics and relatives answered questionnaires to evaluate the palliative pathway at home. Questionnaires addressed the palliative pathway of a total of 599 deceased cancer patients. Associations between bereaved relatives' evaluation of palliative pathways at home and place of death and CN involvement were analysed.

Results

'A successful palliative pathway at home' was positively associated with home-death and death at a nursing home compared with death at an institution. No significant associations were identified between the evaluations of the palliative pathway at home and the involvement of CNs.

Conclusions

Our study indicates that dying at home is positively associated with a higher likelihood that the bereaved relative will evaluate the palliative pathway at home as successful. The absence of any significance of involvement of CNs may be ascribed to the variables for involvement chosen in the study. More research is needed on CNs' impact on palliative pathways.