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Palliative Care In South Asia: A Systematic Review Of The Evidence For Care Models, Interventions, And Outcomes

T. Singh, R. Harding
Published 2015 · Medicine

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BackgroundThe increasing incidence of cancer and chronic diseases in South Asia has created a growing public health and clinical need for palliative care in the region. As an emerging discipline with increasing coverage, palliative care must be guided by evidence.In order to appraise the state of the science and inform policy and best practice in South Asia this study aimed to systematically review the evidence for palliative care models, interventions, and outcomes.ResultsThe search identified only 16 articles, reporting a small range of services. The 16 articles identified India as having greatest number of papers (n = 14) within South Asia, largely focused in the state of Kerala. Nepal and Pakistan reported a single study each, with nothing from Bhutan, Afghanistan, Maldives or Bangladesh. Despite the large population of South Asia, we found only 4 studies reporting intervention outcomes, with the remaining reporting service descriptions (n = 12).ConclusionsThe dearth of evidence in terms of palliative care outcomes, and the lack of data from beyond India, highlight the urgent need for greater research investment and activity to guide the development of feasible, acceptable, appropriate and effective palliative care services. There is some evidence that suggests implementation of successful and well-developed community based models of palliative care may be replicated in other resource limited settings. Greater investigation to determine outcomes and costs are urgently needed, and require well-designed and validated tools to measure outcomes. Studies are also needed to better understand the cultural context of death and dying for patients and their families in South Asia, and to respond to the growing need for palliative and end-of-life care in the region.
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