UMHS expert: Promise of palliative care requires more training

December 5, 2016  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

There may never be enough formally-trained palliative care physicians, but in a recent editorial, Preeti Malani, M.D., professor of internal medicine at UMHS, makes the case for more research and better training of all doctors to support families facing serious illness.

JAMA published findings linking palliative care to a better, if not longer, life. To date, research had shown mixed results with some studies showing a survival benefit. The current study is a pooled analysis of 43 published studies with a total of almost 13,000 patients and 2,500 caregivers.

Palliative care interventions are associated with improvements in patient quality of life and symptom burden, but not survival. In an accompanying editorial, Malani explains that the benefits of palliative care make it “imperative” to train both specialists and nonspecialists to deliver supportive care.

Malani is the associate editor of JAMA and an infectious disease expert at UMHS. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), provides a road map for delivering interventions proven to be proven.

“Along with expanding palliative care research and public awareness, PCHETA is designed to establish a nationwide network of palliative care and hospice education centers that could expand specialist training programs and also train all clinicians in providing high-quality palliative care,” according to the editorial co-authored by Eric Widera, M.D., of University of California-San Francisco.

“With estimated expenditures of up to $49.1 million per year, the cost of PCHETA is small compared with the potential benefits of meaningfully improving the quality of life of individuals living with serious illness.”