Palliative cancer patients in the acute hospital setting – physiotherapists attitudes and beliefs towards this patient group

TAYLOR, Helen N. and BRYAN, Karen (2014). Palliative cancer patients in the acute hospital setting – physiotherapists attitudes and beliefs towards this patient group. Progress in Palliative Care, 22 (6), 334-341.

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Background; With advances in medical technology, increasing numbers of patients are ‘living with’ a terminal cancer diagnosis for longer periods; this coupled with changes in government policy, is resulting in patients being treated closer to home rather than in specialist centres, bringing acute hospital physiotherapists into increasing contact with this patient group.

Aim; To describe the experience of acute hospital physiotherapists with palliative cancer patients.

Design; Semi-structured interviews analysed utilizing Colaizzi’s method of analysis, reported using the COREQ guidelines.

Setting; Acute Hospital in the UK.

Participants; The first twelve physiotherapists who volunteered for the study who met the inclusion criteria.

Results; Two main themes were identified, Attitudes and Issues, with four sub-themes in attitudes (terminology, physiotherapists perceptions, other professionals perceived attitudes towards physiotherapists, and patients and families perceived attitudes towards physiotherapists’): There were six sub-themes in issues (communication, education, emotions, boundaries, referring onward from the acute setting and time).

Conclusions and Implications for Practice; Some physiotherapists understand and apply their skills to improve the quality of life of palliative cancer patients. However, it is suggested that the majority of physiotherapists regard these patients as ‘dying from’ rather than ‘living with’ a terminal cancer diagnosis. Referral protocols and service pathways are lacking. There is an opportunity to improve how the profession promotes itself to other professionals, the public and physiotherapists of the future, to facilitate palliative cancer patients’ access to rehabilitation when and where they need it, and to deliver services in line with government policy.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number: 10.1179/1743291X14Y.0000000105
Depositing User: Jill Hazard
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2015 14:45
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 23:09

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