Considering community care in public health responses: A national study regarding palliative care during a prolonged coronavirus disease 2019 lockdown

Publication Name

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health


Objective: To describe changes in palliative care characteristics, utilisation and outcomes in Victoria during a period of enhanced public health management and a prolonged lockdown due to coronavirus disease 2019. Methods: A national retrospective cohort study with palliative care service setting comparisons in Victoria and other mainland states was conducted. Results: Analysis of 48 non-Victorian services (n=53,428 patients) and 20 Victorian services (n=31,125 patients) showed that for community services, patient volume, average length of stay, functional dependency and the proportion of admissions in a deteriorating phase increased during the lockdown in Victoria, yet little changed in comparator states. Regarding inpatient services, the management of family/carer problems remained constant in comparator states, yet substantial fluctuations in outcomes in Victoria were observed. Conclusions: As health systems adapt to changing circumstances during the pandemic, the ability to upscale community services is critical. Addressing the implications of shifting inpatient care to the community needs attention. Implications for public health: Our study highlights the need to ensure community care providers are adequately considered within public health management responses. ‘Joined up’ policy and implementation across care settings are essential, especially as major barriers to infection control and increased utilisation may be evident in the community during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Department of Health and Aged Care, Australian Government



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