Whileto its optimal implementation at the patient, family, and clinician level, results of a recent survey suggest.
“We found that surgeons reported the most important barriers to be their own,” said Pasithorn A. Suwanabol, MD, division of colorectal surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and coauthors of a report on the survey.
More than three-quarters of surgeons said they had no formal education in palliative care, and a substantial number specifically noted inadequate training in both communication and techniques to forgo life-sustaining measures, according to the report, published in the.
Dr. Suwanabol and her colleagues sought surgeon perspectives on palliative care for stage IV colorectal cancer in part because palliative care is often not integrated with cancer treatment in these potentially incurable patients.
“Compared with patients treated by primary providers, surgical patients with terminal diseases are significantly less likely to receive palliative or end-of-life care,” they said in the report.
They conducted a mixed methods study including members of a surgical society (American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons) who were asked to submit Internet responses to a validated survey. This mixed methods study is believed to be the first to characterize surgeons’ perceived barriers to optimal palliative and end-of life care for patients with advanced colorectal cancer, Dr. Suwanabol and her colleagues noted.
A total of 131 surgeons responded to the survey, for a response rate of 16.5%. The majority of surgeons responding (76.1%) said they did not have any formal palliative care training, while 42.7% said they lacked specific education in communication and 37.9% lacked training in techniques to forgo life-sustaining measures.