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What do patients and family-caregivers value from hospice care? A systematic mixed studies review

Background: It is not known which attributes of care are valued the most by those who experience hospice services. Such knowledge is integral to service development as it facilitates opportunities for continuous improvement of hospice care provision. The objectives of this mixed-studies systematic review were to explore patients' and their family carer views and experiences, to determine what they valued about adult hospice care in the UK. Methods: ASSIA, PubMed, CINAHL and PsycINFO were searched from inception, up until March 2017 to identify qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods studies. Four additional searching techniques supplemented the main search and grey literature was included. A three-stage mixed-method systematic review was conducted with a sequential exploratory design. Thematic synthesis was used with qualitative data, followed by a narrative summary of the quantitative data. The qualitative and quantitative syntheses were then juxtaposed within a matrix to produce an overarching synthesis. Results: Thirty-four studies highlighted that what patients and carers valued was generally context specific and stemmed from an amalgamation of hospice service components, which both individually and collectively contributed to improvements in quality of life. When the syntheses of qualitative and quantitative studies were viewed in isolation, the value placed on services remained relatively consistent, with some discrepancies evident in service availability. These were commonly associated with geographical variations, as well as differences in service models and timeframes. Through an overarching synthesis of the qualitative and quantitative evidence, however, notable variations and a more nuanced account of what people valued and why were more prominent, specifically in relation to a lack of social support for carers, disparate access to essential services, the underrepresentation of patients with a non-cancer diagnosis, and the dissatisfaction with the range of services provided. Conclusion: Review findings strengthen the existing evidence base and illuminates the underpinning elements of hospice care most valued by patients and their families. With large disparities in the availability of services, however, the underrepresentation of patients with non-malignant diseases and the limited evidence base demonstrating the adequate addressment of the social needs of carers, there continues to be considerable gaps that warrants further research. 

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BioMed Central Ltd
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BMC Palliative Care
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