Palliative Care Transitions From Acute Care to Community-Based Care—A Systematic Review
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CONTEXT: Although the literature on transitions from hospital to the community is extensive, little is known about this experience within the context of palliative care (PC). OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review to investigate the impact of receiving palliative care in hospital on the transition from hospital to the community. METHODS: We systematically searched MEDLINE, Embase, ProQuest, and CINAHL from 1995 until April 10, 2018, and extracted relevant references. Eligible articles were published in English, included adult patients receiving PC as inpatients, and explored transitions from hospital to the community. RESULTS: A total of 1514 studies were identified and eight met inclusion criteria. Studies were published recently (>2012; n = 7, 88%). Specialist PC interventions were delivered by multidisciplinary care teams as part of inpatient PC triggers, discharge planning programs, and transitional care programs. Common outcomes reported with significant findings consisted of length of stay (n = 5), discharge support (n = 5), and hospital readmissions (n = 6) for those who received inpatient PC. Most studies were at high risk of bias. CONCLUSION: Heterogeneity of study designs, outcomes, findings, and poor methodological quality renders it challenging to draw conclusions regarding PC's impact on the transition from hospital to home. Further research should use standardized outcomes with randomized controlled trial and/or propensity matched cohort designs.