Reducing symptom distress for older people

21st June 2021

Researchers have found that specialist palliative care integrated with district nurses and GPs is cost-effective to reduce symptom distress for older people severely affected by chronic conditions.

In a novel randomised controlled single-blind mixed method trial they demonstrated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of integrating palliative care into primary and community healthcare for adults aged 75 years and over, specifically patients with multi-morbidity and frailty and two or more symptoms and concerns. Researchers says that further research is needed to examine the implementation of short-term integrated palliative and supportive care more widely for people at home and in care homes. 

Lead author Dr Catherine Evans, said:

“Older people living with chronic noncancer conditions want better access to palliative care to orientate care towards quality of life. They want services to be responsive to rising symptoms and concerns associated with the often multiple progressive conditions they live with, and to support their families. This study demonstrates how we can achieve this. We focused on strengthening the integration of specialist palliative care in general practice and community nursing services. Working in this way reduced symptom distress for the older person and could be delivered by existing services. Our next steps are to identify how to implement more widely for people at home  and in care homes.”

Evans CJ, Bone AE, Yi D, Gao W, Morgan M, Tazerzadeh S, Maddocks M, Wright J, Lindsay F, Bruni C, Harding R, Sleeman KE, Gomes B, Higginson IJ. Community-based short-term integrated palliative and supportive care reduces symptom distress for older people with chronic noncancer conditions compared with usual care: a randomised controlled single-blind mixed method trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies 2021: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2021.103978