Introduction: Provision of palliative care is inequitable with wide variations across conditions and settings in the UK. Lack of a standard way to classify by case complexity is one of the principle obstacles to addressing this. We aim to develop and validate a casemix classification to support the prediction of costs of specialist palliative care provision.
Methods and analysis: Phase I: A cohort study to determine the variables and potential classes to be included in a casemix classification. Data are collected from clinicians in palliative care services across inpatient hospice, hospital and community settings on: patient demographics, potential complexity/casemix criteria and patient-level resource use. Cost predictors are derived using multivariate regression and then incorporated into a classification using classification and regression trees. Internal validation will be conducted by bootstrapping to quantify any optimism in the predictive performance (calibration and discrimination) of the developed classification. Phase II: A mixed-methods cohort study across settings for external validation of the classification developed in phase I. Patient and family caregiver data will be collected longitudinally on demographics, potential complexity/casemix criteria and patient-level resource use. This will be triangulated with data collected from clinicians on potential complexity/casemix criteria and patient-level resource use, and with qualitative interviews with patients and caregivers about care provision across difference settings. The classification will be refined on the basis of its performance in the validation data set.
Ethics and dissemination: The study has been approved by the National Health Service Health Research Authority Research Ethics Committee. The results are expected to be disseminated in 2018 through papers for publication in major palliative care journals; policy briefs for clinicians, commissioning leads and policy makers; and lay summaries for patients and public. Trial registration number: ISRCTN90752212.