The COMPASS study: A descriptive study on the characteristics of palliative care team consultation for cancer patients in hospitals

Arianne Brinkman-Stoppelenburg, Suzanne Polinder, Jetske Meerum-Terwogt, Ellen de Nijs, Annemiek van der Padt-Pruijsten, Liesbeth Peters, Maurice van der Vorst, Lia van Zuylen, Hester Lingsma, Agnes van der Heide

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Objective: To describe the characteristics of palliative care team (PCT) consultation for patients with cancer who are admitted in hospital and to investigate when and why PCTs are consulted. Methods: In this descriptive study in ten Dutch hospitals, the COMPASS study, we compared characteristics of patients with cancer for whom a PCT was or was not consulted (substudy 1). We also collected information about the process of PCT consultations and the disciplines involved (substudy 2). Results: In substudy 1, we included 476 patients. A life expectancy <3 months, unplanned hospitalisation and lack of options for anti-cancer treatment increased the likelihood of PCT consultation. In substudy 2, 64% of 550 consultations concerned patients with a life expectancy of <3 months. The most frequently mentioned problems that were identified by the PCTS were complex pain problems (56%), issues around the organisation of care (31%), fatigue (27%) and dyspnoea (27%). There was much variance between hospitals in the disciplines that were involved in consultations. Conclusion: Palliative care teams in Dutch hospitals are most often consulted for patients with a life expectancy of <3 months who have an unplanned hospital admission because of physical symptoms or problems. We found much variance between hospitals in the composition and activities of PCTs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13172
JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
Issue number1
Early online date1 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • descriptive study
  • hospitals
  • neoplasms
  • palliative care
  • palliative medicine
  • referral and consultation

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