Palliative Care in NJ: Gaps and Opportunities to Improve Access

Grant provided from the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR)

This research project will catalogue the prevalence of inpatient and community-based palliative care services across the state and quantify the gaps in access for patients with cancer.

Brief Description:

Palliative care is specialized medical care that provides patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress that often occur with serious illness such as cancer. Unlike hospice care, palliative care is appropriate at any stage of a serious illness and can be provided alongside curative treatment.

Palliative care significantly improves quality of life for patients living with cancer and has been proven to lower costs that are often burdensome for patients and their families. Unfortunately, despite the recent increase of inpatient palliative care programs in NJ hospitals, as noted in the 2019 State-by-State Report Card on Access to Palliative Care published by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), information about the composition of palliative care programs in our state is not well understood, and use of these services for patients with cancer in NJ remains low.

To identify where, how, and to whom services are being provided, and to better understand and quantify the gaps in access to palliative care for patients with cancer, our research aims to answer the following questions:

  • Where are palliative care services being provided across the state?
  • Are facilities/health systems providing services using team-based approaches for care or a single provider?
  • Are all patients being offered palliative care services or just a specific sub-set of patients?
  • How does patient need for and access to palliative care services differ in underserved populations and communities in NJ?
  • What needs to be done to increase access to palliative care services for all cancer patients in NJ?

Our multi-phase research plan will result in a registry and directory of palliative care providers and agencies that deliver palliative care services across the inpatient, outpatient, and home settings throughout NJ. This information will allow patients, families, and clinicians to understand availability of palliative care teams in their localities.

The overall goal of this research project is to develop a clearer picture of palliative care services across the state to identify gaps and ultimately address challenges and barriers that are preventing New Jerseyeans with cancer from receiving the best possible care.