A survey of patients' experience of pain and other symptoms while receiving care from palliative care services

Pidgeon, Tanya, Johnson, Claire E., Currow, David, Yates, Patsy, Banfield, Maree, Lester, Leanne, Allingham, Sam F., Bird, Sonia, & Eagar, Kathy (2016) A survey of patients' experience of pain and other symptoms while receiving care from palliative care services. BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care, 6(3), pp. 315-322.

View at publisher



  • In Australia, patients at the end of life with complex symptoms and needs are often referred to palliative care services (PCSs), but little is known about the symptoms of patients receiving palliative care in different settings.


  • To explore patients’ levels of pain and other symptoms while receiving care from PCSs.


  • PCSs registered through Australia's national Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC) were invited to participate in a survey between 2008 and 2011. Patients (or if unable, a proxy) were invited to complete the Palliative Care Outcome Scale.


  • Questionnaires were completed for 1800 patients. One-quarter of participants reported severe pain, 20% reported severe ‘other symptoms’, 20% reported severe patient anxiety, 45% reported severe family anxiety, 66% experienced depressed feelings and 19% reported severe problems with self-worth. Participants receiving care in major cities reported higher levels of depressed feelings than participants in inner regional areas. Participants receiving care in community and combined service settings reported higher levels of need for information, more concerns about wasted time, and lower levels of family anxiety and depressed feelings when compared to inpatients. Participants in community settings had lower levels of concern about practical matters than inpatients.


  • Patients receiving care from Australian PCSs have physical and psychosocial concerns that are often complex and rated as ‘severe’. Our findings highlight the importance of routine, comprehensive assessment of patients’ concerns and the need for Specialist Palliative Care clinicians to be vigilant in addressing pain and other symptoms in a timely, systematic and holistic manner, whatever the care setting.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

ID Code: 83802
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2014-000748
ISSN: 2045-4368
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Nursing not elsewhere classified (111099)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
Deposited On: 28 Apr 2015 23:38
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 01:58

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page