Evaluating an holistic assessment tool for palliative care practice"

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Aims and objectives. To evaluate a holistic assessment tool for palliative care practice. This included identifying patients’ needsusing the holistic tool and exploring the usability, applicability and barriers and facilitators towards implementation in practice.Background. The delivery of effective holistic palliative care requires a careful assessment of the patients’ needs and circumstances.Whilst holistic assessment of palliative care needs is advocated, questions exist around the appropriateness of toolsto assist this process.Design. Mixed-method research design.Methods. Data collection involved an analysis of piloted holistic assessments undertaken using the tool (n = 132) and twofocus groups with healthcare professionals (n = 10).Results. The tool enabled health professionals to identify and gain an understanding of the needs of the patients, specificallyin relation to the physical healthcare needs. Differences, however, between the analysis of the tool documentation and focusgroup responses were identified in particular areas. For example, 59 (688%) respondents had discussed preferred prioritiesof care with the patient; however, focus group comments revealed participants had concerns around this. Similarly, whilstover half of responses (n = 50; 575%) had considered a prognostic clinical indicator for the patient as an action, focusgroup results indicated questions around healthcare professionals’ knowledge and perceived usefulness of such indicators.Positive aspects of the tool were that it was easy to understand and captured the needs of individuals. Negative aspects ofthe tool were that it was repetitive and the experience of assessors required consideration.Conclusion. The tool evaluation identified questions regarding holistic assessment in palliative care practice and the importanceof communication.Relevance to clinical practice. A holistic assessment tool can support patient assessment and identification of patients’ needsin the ‘real world’ of palliative care practice, but the ‘tool’ is merely an aid to assist professionals to discuss difficult andsensitive aspects of care.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2013


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