Korean J Hosp Palliat Care.  2012 Mar;15(1):10-17.

Doctor's Perception and Referral Barriers toward Palliative Care for Advanced Cancer Patients

  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. jklee@skku.edu
  • 2Center for Health Promotion, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
  • 3Division of Medical Oncology, Kyung Hee University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


This study was conducted to identify the perception regarding palliative care among Korean doctors and referral barriers toward palliative care for terminal cancer patients.
Between May and June 2010, 477 specialists mainly caring cancer patients using a web-based, self-administered questionnaire.
A total of 128 doctors (26.8%) responded. All respondents (100%) deemed palliative care a necessary service for terminal cancer patients. More than 80% of the respondents agreed to each of the following statements: all cancer centers should provide palliative care service (80.5%); all terminal cancer patients should receive concurrent palliative care along with anti-cancer therapies (89.1%) and caring for terminal cancer patients requires interdisciplinary approach (96.9). While more than 58% of the respondents were satisfied with their performance of physical and psychological symptoms management and emotional support provided by patient's family members, 64% of the responded answered that their general management of the end-of-life care was less than satisfactory. Doctors without prior experience in referring their patients to palliative care specialists accounted for 26.6% of the respondents. The most common barrier to hospice referral, cited by 47.7% of the respondents, was "refusal of patient or family member", followed by "lack of available palliative care resources" (46.1%).
Although most doctors do recognize the importance of palliative care for advanced cancer patients, comprehensive and sufficient palliative medicine, including interdisciplinary cooperation and end-of-life care, has not been put into practice. Thus, more active palliative consultation or referral is needed for effective care of terminal cancer patients.


Palliative care; Hospice care; Physicians; Perception; Referral and consultation

MeSH Terms

Surveys and Questionnaires
Hospice Care
Palliative Care
Referral and Consultation
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