Objective: The aims of the study were to examine a) patients' knowledge of palliative care, b) patients' expectations and needs when being admitted to a palliative care unit, and c) patient's concept of a good palliative care physician. Methods: The study was based on a qualitative methodology, comprising 32 semistructured interviews with advanced cancer patients admitted to the palliative care unit of the Medical University of Vienna. Interviews were conducted with 20 patients during the first three days after admission to the unit and after one week, recorded digitally, and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using NVivo 10 software, based on thematic analysis enhanced with grounded theory techniques. Results: The results revealed four themes: (1) information about palliative care, (2) supportive care needs, (3) being treated in a palliative care unit, and (4) qualities required of palliative care physicians. The data showed that patients lack information about palliative care, that help in social concerns plays a central role in palliative care, and attentiveness as well as symptom management are important to patients. Patients desire a personal patient-physician relationship. The qualities of a good palliative care physician were honesty, the ability to listen, taking time, being experienced in their field, speaking the patient's language, being human, and being gentle. Patients experienced relief when being treated in a palliative care unit, perceived their care as an interdisciplinary activity, and felt that their burdensome symptoms were being attended to with emotional care. Negative perceptions included the overtly intense treatment. Conclusions: The results of the present study offer an insight into what patients expect from palliative care teams. Being aware of patient's needs will enable medical teams to improve professional and individualized care.
Masel, E. K., Kitta, A., Huber, P., Rumpold, T., Unseld, M., Schur, S., … Watzke, H. H. (2016). What makes a good palliative care physician? A qualitative study about the patient’s expectations and needs when being admitted to a palliative care unit. PLoS ONE, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0158830