Context: There is an increasing need for the comparative assessment of palliative care services; however, few systematic empirical studies have been performed to determine the most feasible, representative, efficient survey method. Objectives: To investigate the feasibility, representativeness, and efficiency of several survey methods. Methods: This study was performed as a part of a national initiative to develop a system to evaluate the quality of palliative care services. Three separate but related surveys of patients, caregivers, and bereaved family members were conducted. These surveys were designed to simulate an independent assessment in a nationwide quality evaluation project. Results: The effective response rates for the patient, caregiver, and bereavement surveys were 30.4% (105 of 344), 46.5% (160 of 344), and 20.9% (501 of 2398), respectively. Subjects who responded to the patient and caregiver surveys were likely to have better physical and mental conditions, whereas subjects who responded to the bereaved family survey did not differ significantly from nonrespondents in regard to patient characteristics, except for a small difference in patient gender (females: 47.2% vs. 41.7%, P = 0.028). The average number of responses per institution was 3.2, 4.8, and 15.2, respectively. The cost of the patient and caregiver surveys was much higher than the cost of the bereaved family member survey. Conclusion: There were significant differences between the three methods. Despite the low response rate, our findings suggest that the bereaved family member survey has strengths in terms of feasibility and efficiency, and could be considered as a practical option for the comparative assessment of palliative care services by an independent body.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
To our knowledge, this is the first study to evaluate the feasibility, representativeness, and efficiency of different comparisons of palliative care services by patients, caregivers, and bereaved family members. One noteworthy aspect of our study is the adoption of a survey design that simulates an assessment by an independent body in a nationwide quality evaluation project. This was made possible by funding from the government to objectively compare the quality of palliative care centers. Although the staff of each palliative care center assisted in determining the eligibility of the subjects for ethical reasons (i.e., so that the survey would not be distributed to subjects at risk for severe psychological distress), participation of the staff was minimized as much as possible.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine