American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

View all recommendations from this society

Released February 21, 2013

Don’t delay palliative care for a patient with serious illness who has physical, psychological, social or spiritual distress because they are pursuing disease-directed treatment.

Numerous studies—including randomized trials—provide evidence that palliative care improves pain and symptom control, improves family satisfaction with care and reduces costs. Palliative care does not accelerate death, and may prolong life in selected populations.


These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a medical professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician.

How The List Was Created

The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s (AAHPM) president appointed a special task force to coordinate the development of the Academy’s recommendations. Chaired by a member of the Board of Directors who had previously overseen AAHPM’s education and training committees, the task force included representatives of the Academy’s Quality and Practice Standards Task Force, Research Committee, Ethics Committee, Public Policy Committee and External Awareness Task Force, as well as at-large appointees that represent distinguished leaders in the field. The task force solicited input from AAHPM’s 17 Special Interest Groups, and task force members also offered their own suggestions for the list. Considering the potential impact and evidence to support the proposed recommendations, the task force identified seven finalists for which a rationale and evidence base was further developed. All AAHPM members were invited to comment on and rank these seven recommendations. Member feedback informed the task force’s final deliberation, which included narrowing the list to the “Five Things” and refining the verbiage of the recommendations. The list was then reviewed and approved by the AAHPM Executive Committee.

AAHPM’s disclosure and conflict of interest policy can be found at www.aahpm.org

Sources

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Elsayem A, Smith ML, Palmer JL, Jenkins R, Reddy S, Bruera E. Impact of a palliative care service on in-hospital mortality in a comprehensive cancer center. J Pall Med. 2006;9:894-902.

Elsayem A, Swint K, Fisch MJ, Palmer JL, Reddy S, Walker P, Zhukovsky D, Knight P, Bruera E. Palliative care inpatient services in a comprehensive cancer center: Clinical and financial outcomes. J Clin Oncol. 2004 May 14;22(10):2008-2014.

Gelfman LP, Meier D, Morrison RS. Does palliative care improve quality? A survey of bereaved family members. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2008 Jul;36f:22-28.

Higginson IJ, Finlay IG, Goodwin DM, Hood K, Edwards AG, Cook A, Douglas HR, Normand CE. Is there evidence that palliative care teams alter end-of-life experiences of patients and their caregivers? J Pain Symptom Manage. 2003;25:150-168.

Jordhoy MS, Fayers P, Saltnes T, Ahlner-Elmqvist M, Jannert M, Kaasa S. A palliative care intervention and death at home: A cluster randomized trial. Lancet. 2000 Sep 9;356(9233):888-893.

London MR, McSkimming S, Drew N, Quinn C, Carney B. Evaluation of a comprehensive, adaptable, life-affirming, longitudinal (CALL) palliative care project. J Pall Med. 2005;8:1214-1225.

Temel JS, Greer JA, Muzikansky A, Gallagher ER, Admane S, Jackson VA, Dahlin CM, Blinderman CD, Jacobsen J, Pirl WF, Billings JA, Lynch TJ. Early palliative care for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. N Engl J Med. 2010;363:733-742.