Feasibility of the PalliSupport care pathway: results from a mixed-method study in acutely hospitalized older patients at the end of life

Isabelle Flierman, Marjon Van Rijn, Marike de Meij, Marjolein Poels, Dorende M. Niezink, Dick L. Willems, Bianca M. Buurman

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A transitional care pathway (TCP) could improve care for older patients in the last months of life. However, barriers exist such as unidentified palliative care needs and suboptimal collaboration between care settings. The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of a TCP, named PalliSupport, for older patients at the end of life, prior to a stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial. 


A mixed-method feasibility study was conducted at one hospital with affiliated primary care. Patients were ≥ 60 years and acutely hospitalized. The intervention consisted of (1) training on early identification of the palliative phase and end of life conversations, (2) involvement of a transitional palliative care team during admission and post-discharge and (3) intensified collaboration between care settings. Outcomes were feasibility of recruitment, data collection, patient burden and protocol adherence. Experiences of 14 professionals were assessed through qualitative interviews. 


Only 16% of anticipated participants were included which resulted in difficulty assessing other feasibility criteria. The qualitative analysis identified misunderstandings about palliative care, uncertainty about professionals' roles and difficulties in initiating end of life conversations as barriers. The training program was well received and professionals found the intensified collaboration beneficial for patient care. The patients that participated experienced low burden and data collection on primary outcomes and protocol adherence seems feasible. 


This study highlights the importance of performing a feasibility study prior to embarking on effectiveness studies. Moving forward, the PalliSupport care pathway will be adjusted to incorporate a more active recruitment approach, additional training on identification and palliative care, and further improvement on data collection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number129
Number of pages10
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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