Preferences of patients with palliative care needs and their families for engagement with service improvement work within the hospital setting: A qualitative study
Background: There is growing recognition of the importance of involving patients and families with lived experiences of illness in healthcare service quality improvement, research and implementation initiatives. Ensuring input from people with palliative care needs is important, but how to enable this is not well understood. Aim: To seek the perspectives of Australian patients with palliative care needs, and their family members, to elicit their views on how to best contribute to inpatient palliative care quality improvement initiatives. Design: An exploratory qualitative study, using semi-structured interviews. Setting/participants: Eligible participants were adult patients with palliative care needs receiving care within a hospital setting, and their family members. Recruitment occurred through: five hospitals in New South Wales, Australia; and snowballing. Results: Fifty participants took part (21 patients and 29 family members). Results confirmed four themes: (1) Mechanisms for providing feedback about care quality need to be supportive and individualised; (2) The clinician-patient/family power imbalance makes real time feedback challenging to provide; (3) Willingness to contribute varies according to diagnosis, timing and role and (4) Face to face feedback is preferred for health service improvement work. Conclusions: Enabling meaningful consumer input to quality improvement requires careful consideration due to the unique requirements of the palliative care population. Embedding tailored outcome and experience measures to inform real-time care provision coupled with focussed opportunities for input into service improvement may best foster improvements in inpatient palliative care, founded in what matters most for people requiring this care.