Article Abstract

Ethical challenges of outcome measurement in palliative care clinical practice: a systematic review of systematic reviews

Authors: Sandra Martins Pereira, Pablo Hernández-Marrero


Several outcome measures have been systematically implemented to be used in palliative care. However, routine use in clinical practice is not without ethical challenges, which are not commonly addressed. The objectives of this study are therefore (I) to identify the ethical challenges/issues of outcome measurement in palliative care and (II) to understand how these ethical challenges/issues are addressed in palliative care clinical practice. The study consisted of a systematic review of systematic reviews, which is a type of review that brings together a summary of reviews in one place. We searched PubMed, Web of Science, EBSCOhost searching CINAHL Complete, MEDLINE Complete, Nursing & Allied Health Collection: Comprehensive, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Cochrane Methodology Register, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, MedicLatina, from inception to January 2018. Out of 159 articles screened, only two [2] articles were included for analysis. The main ethical challenge/issue identified in these two reviews was cognitive impairment, particularly in patients with dementia. This challenge was addressed via proxy (family carers or health professionals) reporting outcome measurement. Ethical challenges/issues are poorly addressed in the existing systematic reviews about outcome measurement in palliative care clinical practice. Only two systematic reviews addressed ethical challenges/issues, namely cognitive impairment, particularly in persons with dementia. Further research is needed on this subject and to foster the use of outcome measurement among this vulnerable group of patients.