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Attitudes of Liver and Palliative Care Clinicians toward Specialist Palliative Care Consultation for Patients with End-Stage Liver Disease. J Palliat Med 2019 07;22(7):804-813



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85068337781   2 Citations



Delays in specialized palliative care (PC) consultation in end-stage liver disease (ESLD) patients may be explained by clinician attitudes toward PC. Our aim is to assess the attitudes of hepatology and liver transplant (HLT) and PC clinicians toward PC consultation and consultant roles in ESLD patient care.


Clinician members of HLT and PC professional societies were surveyed. Using a five-point Likert scale, they rated their comfort level toward various PC consultant roles and their agreement with triggers for and reasons to defer PC consultation. Change in attitudes toward PC consultation resulting from liver transplant (LT) eligibility was evaluated.


A total of 311 HLT (6.2%) and 379 PC (8.1%) clinicians completed the survey. The vast majority of HLT clinicians (>80%) were comfortable if PC consultants palliate symptoms, provide support, or facilitate advance care planning in LT-ineligible patients. LT eligibility reduced HLT clinician comfort toward all PC consultant roles, except supportive care. A vast majority of PC clinicians (>90%) were comfortable assuming all PC roles, except pain management without opioids (43-51%). About 80% of HLT clinicians agree with PC consultation in LT-ineligible patients with decompensated cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), compared to 20-30% if LT ineligible. Common justifications for deferring PC consultation included mild disease, LT eligibility, unavailability of PC specialists, and lack of addressable palliative issues.


Barriers to specialized PC consultation in ESLD include HLT clinician discomfort with PC consultant roles, patients' LT eligibility, perception that PC is end-of-life care, unclear triggers for PC consultation, and concern about opioid-based pain palliation.

Author List

Esteban JPG, Rein L, Szabo A, Saeian K, Rhodes M, Marks S


James Esteban MD Assistant Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Mary Rhodes MD, MS Assistant Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Kia Saeian MD Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Aniko Szabo PhD Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Advance Care Planning
Attitude of Health Personnel
End Stage Liver Disease
Pain Management
Palliative Care
Referral and Consultation
Societies, Medical
Surveys and Questionnaires
United States
jenkins-FCD Prod-482 91ad8a360b6da540234915ea01ff80e38bfdb40a