Rural palliative care: A comprehensive review

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Background: Access to integrated, palliative care regardless of location of residence is a palliative care standard yet we know such access is limited for those living in rural and remote settings. As a beginning step in the development of research aimed at informing policy and program development, a comprehensive review of the state of knowledge regarding palliative care in rural contexts is required. Purpose: To identify, evaluate and synthesize the published literature on rural palliative care. Design: Comprehensive review. Methods: Computer searches were conducted on PubBMed, ISI Web of Science, PsycInfo, CINAHL, and Ageline using the search terms palliative care, hospice, terminal care, end-of-life care, end-of-life, and rural or remote. Results: One hundred fifty-eight studies were retrieved. After screening using relevance and quality criteria, 79 studies were included in the review. Studies were grouped by subject matter into one of three categories: patient and caregiver perspectives; professional attitudes, knowledge and practice issues; and health care services. Conclusion: The body of research literature is small and eclectic, which means there is little strong evidence to inform palliative policy and service development in rural settings. Coordinated programs of research are clearly required to develop a body of knowledge that is adequate to support effective service and policy development.

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Journal Article

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