Indicators of integration of oncology and palliative care programs: An international consensus

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Journal Article
Annals of Oncology, 2015, 26 (9), pp. 1953 - 1959
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© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology. All rights reserved. Background: Recently, the concept of integrating oncology and palliative care has gained wide professional and scientific support; however, a global consensus on what constitutes integration is unavailable. We conducted a Delphi Survey to develop a consensus list of indicators on integration of specialty palliative care and oncology programs for advanced cancer patients in hospitals with ≥100 beds. Methods: International experts on integration rated a list of indicators on integration over three iterative rounds under five categories: clinical structure, processes, outcomes, education, and research. Consensus was defined a priori by an agreement of ≥70%. Major criteria (i.e. most relevant and important indicators) were subsequently identified. Results: Among 47 experts surveyed, 46 (98%), 45 (96%), and 45 (96%) responded over the three rounds. Nineteen (40%) were female, 24 (51%) were from North America, and 14 (30%) were from Europe. Sixteen (34%), 7 (15%), and 25 (53%) practiced palliative care, oncology, and both specialties, respectively. After three rounds of deliberation, the panelists reached consensus on 13 major and 30 minor indicators. Major indicators included two related to structure (consensus 95%-98%), four on processes (88%-98%), three on outcomes (88%-91%), and four on education (93%-100%). The major indicators were considered to be clearly stated (9.8/10), objective (9.4/10), amenable to accurate coding (9.5/10), and applicable to their own countries (9.4/10). Conclusions: Our international experts reached broad consensus on a list of indicators of integration, which may be used to identify centers with a high level of integration, and facilitate benchmarking, quality improvement, and research.
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