Specialty palliative care in COVID-19: Early experiences from the palliative care quality collaborative

Arif H. Kamal, Rachel M. Thienprayoon, Melissa Aldridge, Janet Bull, Kristyn Fazzalaro, Diane E. Meier, Lance Mueller, Phillip E. Rodgers, Kelly A. McKenna, Steven Z. Pantilat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred unprecedented need for specialty palliative care. The Palliative Care Quality Collaborative (PCQC) provides unique infrastructure for rapid data collection and analysis. Objectives: To capture and describe real-time, real-world experiences of specialty palliative care professionals caring for patients with COVID-19 through a rapid reporting tool and registry. Setting: Palliative care clinicians consulted for patients either positive for COVID-19, under investigation for COVID-19, or recovered from COVID-19. Design: The PCQC created a 13-item COVID-19 case report form (CRF), modeled after the PCQC core dataset for specialty palliative care quality measurement. Twelve items offered discrete answer choices and one was open-ended. The CRF was publicized widely (e.g., social media, e-mail list serves) and completed through a link on the PCQC website. Results: Three hundred six reports (298 adult, 8 pediatric) were submitted between April 6, 2020 and October 7, 2020. The majority of patients (83%) were 50 years or older; 25% were 80 or older, and 78% were COVID-19 positive. Male gender identity was significantly more prevalent than female (58% vs. 40%, p < 0.002). The most common comorbidity was cardiovascular disease (23%). Of adult hospital-based patients, 69% were full code before palliative care consultation versus 28% after (p < 0.05). All pediatric patients were full code before and after palliative care consult. Qualitative themes were strained communication with patients, family visitation challenges, communication barriers between clinicians and families, rapid changes in palliative care medical management, community care options difficult to find, lack of testing in community-based settings, and guardianship and legal challenges. Conclusion: Preliminary data from the first 306 patients reported to the PCQC COVID-19 Registry describe palliative care use concentrated among older and higher risk patients and challenges to the provision of palliative care during this pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1689-1696
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • PCQC
  • palliative care
  • quality registry


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