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Palliative care (PC) is patient and family-centered supportive care intended to improve symptom management, reduce caregiver burden, coordinate care, and improve quality of life for patients diagnosed with serious illness. Optimally, PC is begun close to initial diagnosis and delivered in synchrony with disease-specific treatment until symptom relief or patient death. The purpose of this study was to examine cancer survivors’ knowledge and perceptions of PC using a nationally representative sample of US adults from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS).
A total of 593 HINTS respondents reported a personal history of cancer and were included in the sample (55.56% female; mean age of 65.88 years, SD = 18.21; mean time from diagnosis 13.83 years, SD = 18.21). Weighted logistic regression models were conducted to identify correlates of PC knowledge.
Of the 593 cancer survivors in the sample, 66% (N = 378) reported that they had never heard of PC, 18% (N = 112) reported knowing a little bit about PC, and 17% (N = 95) reported knowing what PC is and could explain it to someone else. In multivariable analysis, survivors of color (Hispanic/Latino, Black, Asian, American Indian, and Pacific Islander), males, and those less educated were significantly less likely to report knowledge of PC. Among survivors who did report knowledge of PC, a lack of distinction between differing modes of supportive care exists.
Significance of results
These findings suggest a need to increase PC knowledge among cancer survivors with the ultimate goal of addressing disparities in PC acceptance and utilization.
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