Does inpatient palliative care consultation impact outcomes following hospital discharge? A narrative systematic review

Palliative Medicine 2020, Vol. 34(1) 5 –15 (Editor's Choice)

Each month, one article from Palliative Medicine, the EAPC's official research journal, is selected as 'Editor's choice' and the author invited to contribute a short post to the EAPC blog explaining the background to the full article in the journal. This month's 'Editor's choice' is described below with access to the free PDF version.  (You can also read the blog post version here)

While most patients desire to die at home or in a community-based hospice, the transition from hospital to community settings often lacks streamlined coordination of care to ensure that adequate support is provided in the preferred care setting. The impact of hospital-based palliative care consultations on post-discharge care and outcomes has not been extensively studied.


The aim of this study was to appraise available research on the impact of inpatient palliative care consultations on transitions from hospital to community settings.


We conducted a narrative systematic review and used the Effective Public Health Practice Project tool to appraise the quality of selected studies. Studies were included if they assessed the transition from hospital to community and examined outcomes after an inpatient palliative care consultation. A protocol for this study was registered and published in PROSPERO, Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (ID: CRD42018094924).

Data sources:

We searched for quantitative studies indexed in PubMED, CINAHL and Cochrane and published between 1 January 1 2000 and 11 March 2018.


Our search retrieved 2749 articles. From these, 123 articles were full-text screened and 15 studies met our inclusion criteria. Studies reported that inpatient palliative care consultations are associated with high rates of discharge to community settings, greater provision of services post-discharge, improved coordination and lower rates of rehospitalization.


Existing evidence suggest that inpatient palliative care consultations have a positive impact on patient outcomes and transitions to the community, demonstrating the potential to improve patient quality of life and relieve overburdened acute care systems.


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