An evidence-base for the implementation of hospital-based palliative care programs in routine cancer practice: A systematic review

Farwa Rizvi*, Helen Elizabeth Wilding, Nicole M. Rankin, Roslyn Le Gautier, Lorna Gurren, Vijaya Sundararajan, Kylee Bellingham, Joyce Chua, Gregory B. Crawford, Anna K. Nowak, Brian Le, Geoff Mitchell, Sue Anne McLachlan, Tanara Vieira Sousa, Robyn Hudson, Maarten IJzerman, Anna Collins, Jennifer Philip

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Despite global support, there remain gaps in the integration of early palliative care into cancer care. The methods of implementation whereby evidence of benefits of palliative care is translated into practice deserve attention. Aim: To identify implementation frameworks utilised in integrated palliative care in hospital-based oncology services and to describe the associated enablers and barriers to service integration. Design: Systematic review with a narrative synthesis including qualitative, mixed methods, pre-post and quasi experimental designs following the guidance by the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (PROSPERO registration CRD42021252092). Data sources: Six databases searched in 2021: EMBASE, EMCARE, APA PsycINFO, CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Ovid MEDLINE searched in 2023. Included were qualitative or quantitative studies, in English language, involving adults >18 years, and implementing hospital-based palliative care into cancer care. Critical appraisal tools were used to assess the quality and rigour. Results: Seven of the 16 studies explicitly cited the use of frameworks including those based on RE-AIM, Medical Research Council evaluation of complex interventions and WHO constructs of health service evaluation. Enablers included an existing supportive culture, clear introduction to the programme across services, adequate funding, human resources and identification of advocates. Barriers included a lack of communication with the patients, caregivers, physicians and palliative care team about programme goals, stigma around the term ‘palliative’, a lack of robust training, or awareness of guidelines and undefined staff roles. Conclusions: Implementation science frameworks provide a method to underpin programme development and evaluation as palliative care is integrated within the oncology setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1326-1344
Number of pages19
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer care facilities
  • evidence gaps
  • implementation science
  • Palliative care
  • quality of life
  • systematic review


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