The Effect of the Timing of a Hospice Referral and the Perceived Quality of Care by the Family

Caitlin Tran, Dominican University of California


Hospice care is a specialized type of palliative care for patients with a time-limiting illness. Despite its benefits, hospice remains underutilized. A key reason behind the underutilization are untimely referrals, often made during the last weeks or days of the patient’s life. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the existing barriers towards hospice that play into late referrals and its effect on patient/family satisfaction. A research study was then conducted to examine nurses’ perceptions on barriers to timely hospice referrals and utilization.

Through qualitative surveys with nurses with experiencing in caring for a client with a terminal illness, the current study explores how different barriers to hospice referrals are presented in various magnitudes and frequency; and how clients with a terminal illness often face the same unmet needs. The findings of the current study align with previous research which suggests a need to dispel myths and misconceptions about EOL care. By doing so, clients and their family members will be better prepared to make decisions that will improve their healthcare outcomes. The research findings also highlight the need for providing holistic care in the dying patient; addressing not just the illness but the person as a whole.