Population-level, patient-reported outcomes: a case study regarding a public health intervention that involves patients with life-limiting illnesses

Publication Name

Frontiers in Public Health


Introduction: Dying and death are public health concerns, but little is known about public health interventions that target populations living with life-limiting illnesses. This gap makes it difficult to identify best-practice public health interventions for this population and to achieve public health objectives. The study aimed to describe a public health intervention that intends to improve population-level outcomes using point-of-care and patient-reported outcomes. Methods: A case study approach, informed by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development's (OECD) Best-Practice Public Health Framework, was used to describe coverage, effectiveness, and equity using mixed methods. Data from 2012 to 2022 were analyzed. Results: Over the 10-year period, the number of deaths recorded in the programme (n = 16,358 to 32,421, +98.2%) as well as the percentage of the population that might benefit from palliative care increased (14.8% to 25.1%). The median age of those admitted for care (74 to 77 years) and the proportion of services participating in the programme located in outer regional and remote areas of Australia increased (2012: 59; 2022: 94; +5.4%). The access by patients that experience the greatest socioeconomic disadvantage decreased (2012: 18.2% n = 4,918; 2022: 15.9% n = 9,525). Improvements in relation to moderate distress related to pain were identified (2012: 63% n = 8,751, 2022: 69% n = 13,700), and one in five instances of severe distress related to pain did not improve (2012: 20% n = 781; 2022: 19% n = 635). Conclusion: Population-level, patient-reported outcome data are useful and necessary in addressing public health objectives in populations with life-limiting illnesses. Our application of the OECD's Best-Practice Public Health Framework has helped to identify and describe a national intervention that may be transferred to other settings to address health promotion objectives. This may help improve the targeting of treatments to improve pain and issues related to equity.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Sponsor

Department of Health and Aged Care, Australian Government



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