OBJECTIVES: This study explored the views and perceptions of haematologists towards palliative care, based on their own clinical experiences, focusing on those factors that helped or hindered referral to specialist palliative care (SPC) services.
METHOD: We conducted in-depth face-to-face interviews with a purposive sample of eight trainee and consultant haematologists working in tertiary referral centres in the West Midlands. All interviews were recorded, transcribed and subsequently analysed using the principles of the grounded theory approach.
RESULTS: Data analysis revealed a core category around boundaries alongside four emerging categories: perceptions of palliative care; philosophy of approach; determining roles; and responsibility and control. Positive attitudes towards SPC involvement were expressed by most participants. The role of SPC services was sometimes difficult for participants to define, with timing of referral often determined by their level of confidence in providing end-of-life care. Almost all highlighted a lack of inpatient palliative care unit provision; this was viewed negatively and impacted on referral.
CONCLUSIONS: While positive attitudes towards palliative care were expressed, barriers to collaboration between haematology and SPC services were identified and provided opportunities for improved interdisciplinary working. Suggestions for improvement are focused around: improved training; enhanced mutual respect and understanding; clearer definition of the role of SPC services; and consistency and flexibility in service provision.