Original Research

Palliative care in the emergency department: An observational study of doctors in KwaZulu-Natal

Nagaleswari Sriranganathan, David Morris, Laura Campbell, Richard Hift
South African Family Practice | Vol 66, No 1 : Part 2| a5860 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/safp.v66i1.5860 | © 2024 Nagaleswari Sriranganathan, David Morris, Laura Campbell, Richard Hift | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 November 2023 | Published: 19 April 2024

About the author(s)

Nagaleswari Sriranganathan, Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Emergency Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
David Morris, Department of Emergency Medicine, Division of Emergency Medicine, School of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Laura Campbell, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Richard Hift, Department of Clinical Medicine, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Abstract

Background: The World Health Organization advocates the early, appropriate provision of palliative care (PC) to patients throughout the life course. Patient consultations to the emergency department (ED) have been recognised as opportunities to initiate or optimise their PC needs. This study aimed to assess the knowledge of and attitudes towards PC among doctors at emergency physician staffed EDs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted between November 2021 and February 2022 for doctors employed out at emergency physician staffed EDs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, using the validated Palliative Care Attitude and Knowledge questionnaire. The variables assessed were the self-rated and basic knowledge and attitudes towards core domains of PC. Ordinal data were compared using the t-test or ANOVA as appropriate, using MedCalc® Statistical Software version 22.009.

Results: Of the 39 participants, the scores for the knowledge questions showed that 15.3% participants had good knowledge, 53.8% had fair knowledge and 30.7% had poor knowledge. Participants had either favourable (58.8%) or an uncertain (41.0%) attitude towards PC. No correlation was seen between the knowledge and attitudes scores (Spearman’s rho = 0.13, 95% CI –0.19 to 0.43, p = 0.43).

Conclusion: There appears to be a deficit in knowledge of PC among doctors in the ED and a need for in-service training in PC for emergency care physicians.

Contribution: This study provides new knowledge around PC practices at EDs in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


Keywords

emergency medicine; palliative care; knowledge; attitude; survey

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

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