Media Watch 506

Palliative care in surgery: Defining the research priorities

JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE | Online – 24 March 2017 – Given the acute and often life-limiting nature of surgical illness, as well as the potential for treatment to induce further suffering, surgical patients have considerable palliative care (PC) needs. Yet, these patients are less likely to receive PC than their medical counterparts and PC consultations often occur when death is imminent, reflecting poor quality end-of-life care. Surgical patients would likely benefit from early PC delivered alongside surgical treatment to promote goal-concordant decision making and to improve patients' physical, emotional, social, and spiritual well-being and quality of life. To date, evidence to support the role of PC in surgical practice is sparse and PC research in surgery is encumbered by methodological challenges and entrenched cultural norms that impede appropriate provision of PC. The objective of this article is to describe the existing science of PC in surgery within three priority areas and expose specific gaps within the field. The authors propose a research agenda to address these gaps and provide a road map for future investigation.