The Palliative Care Challenge: Analysis of Barriers and Opportunities to Integrate Palliative Care in Europe in the View of National Associations

Carlos Centeno, Eduardo Garralda, José Miguel Carrasco, Marlieke Den Herder-Van Der Eerden, Melissa Aldridge, David Stevenson, DIane E. Meier, Jeroen Hasselaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background: Palliative care (PC) development is diverse and lacks an effective integration into European healthcare systems. This article investigates levels of integrated PC in European countries. Methods: A qualitative survey was undertaken for the 2013 EAPC Atlas of PC in Europe with boards of national associations, eliciting opinions on opportunities for, and barriers to, PC development. Analysis: Barriers and opportunities directly related to PC integration were identified and analyzed thematically according (1) to the dimensions of the World Health Organization (WHO) public health model and (2) by the degree of service provision in each country. A frequency analysis of dimensions and level of provision was also conducted. Results: In total, 48/53 (91%) European countries responded to the survey. A total of 43 barriers and 65 opportunities were identified as being related to PC integration. Main barriers were (1) lack of basic PC training, with a particular emphasis on the absence of teaching at the undergraduate level; (2) lack of official certification for professionals; (3) lack of coordination and continuity of care for users and providers; (4) lack of PC integration for noncancer patients; (5) absence of PC from countries' regulatory frameworks; and (6) unequal laws or regulations pertaining to PC within countries. Innovations in education and new regulatory frameworks were identified as main opportunities in some European countries, in addition to opportunities around the implementation of PC in home care, nursing home settings, and the earlier integration of PC into patients' continuum of care. With increasing provision of services, more challenges for the integration are detected (p < 0.005). Conclusion: A set of barriers and opportunities to PC integration has been identified across Europe, by national associations, offering a barometer against which to check the challenge of integration across countries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1195-1204
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2017


  • Europe
  • health policy
  • healthcare systems
  • integrated care
  • palliative care


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