Barriers, Facilitators and Recommended Strategies for Implementing a Home-Based Palliative Care Intervention in Kolkata, India


Background:40 million people in the world are in need of palliative care, but only one-seventh of that population receive services. Underuse of palliative care in low resource countries exacerbates suffering in patients with life limiting illnesses such as cancer.Objectives:The current study was conducted to identify barriers, facilitators and recommended strategies for informing development of a home-based palliative care intervention for poor and medically underserved rural patients in Kolkata, India.Methods:Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 20 clinical and patient stakeholders in Kolkata, India. Questions queried current practices for delivering palliative care, along with barriers, facilitators and optimal strategies for implementing homebased palliative care.Results:We identified some key barriers to palliative care delivery in rural areas: lack of access to palliative care till late stages; patients unaware of their cancer stage; lack of affordability of medication and treatment costs; transportation challenges to access care; strict morphine distribution regulations making it challenging for patients to obtain morphine; cultural factors discouraging patients from seeking palliative care; resistance from medical community to use “rural medical practitioners (RMPs)” to deliver care. We also identified important facilitators, including availability of existing palliative care infrastructure at the cancer center, network of RMPs to serve as CHWs to facilitate palliative care delivery, low morphine cost and family support system for patients.Conclusion:Our findings provide evidence that a palliative care intervention which leverages an existing CHW infrastructure may be a feasible model for expanding the reach of palliative care to rural underserved patients.

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