Palliative Care Knowledge: A Cross-Sectional Study of Minnesotans
Background: As a large segment of the United States population ages, management of chronic health problems and quality end-of-life care will become increasingly important. Palliative care and hospice care will be an imperative component of providing high-quality care for the aging population. However, misconceptions about palliative care and hospice care are common in the general population and often results in missed opportunities to relieve suffering.
Aims: Our overarching aim is to improve understanding of, and earlier use of, palliative care and hospice services. The specific aim of this study was to determine if age and personal experience as a caregiver of someone with a chronic illness or cancer who utilized palliative care and/or hospice services, was associated with knowledge of palliative care, among Minnesota state fair attendees.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey of participants age 18 years or old was conducted at the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. Palliative care knowledge was assessed using the Palliative Care Knowledge Scale (PaCKS), a 13-item validated measure. Total palliative care knowledge scores (higher scores indicated greater knowledge) were dichotomized to below and above 50% based on previous literature. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to calculate odds ratios across multiple factors (i.e. age, sex, education, caregiver experince) to determine their associations with PaCKS scores.
Results: The odds of scoring above 50% on the PaCKS among those who had experiences with palliative care and/or hospice was 3.39 times (95% CI= 2.26-5.09, p=<0.0001) that of those with no experience. Females were 1.97 times (95% CI=1.49-2.62, p=<0.001) more likely to score above 50% in comparison to males. Furthermore, age was significantly associated with PaCKS scores, with older age being associated with increased knowledge (p=0.002).
Conclusions: Older age, sex, and experience as a caregiver were all associated with higher levels of palliative care knowledge in our sample of Minnesota state fair attendees. This study provides supporting evidence that a knowledge-gap currently exists regarding palliative care benefits and services.
Author: Kait Macheledt, MPH Student, University of Minnesota