Complexities and constraints in end-of-life care for hospitalized prisoner patients
Panozzo, S and Bryan, T and Collins, A and Marco, D and Lethborg, C and Philip, JA, Complexities and constraints in end-of-life care for hospitalized prisoner patients, Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 60, (5) pp. 984-991. ISSN 0885-3924 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Managing the care of an increasing and aging prisoner population, including providing palliative and end-of-life care, is a challenge worldwide. There is little known about the views of health professionals who provide palliative care to hospitalized prisoner patients.
To explore experiences and perspectives of health professionals regarding the provision of palliative and end-of-life care for hospitalized prisoner patients.
A qualitative study involving semistructured focus groups and interviews with 54 medical, nursing, and allied health staff engaged in the care of hospitalized prisoner patients. Purposive sampling from a metropolitan teaching hospital responsible for providing secondary and tertiary health care for prisoners in Victoria, Australia, for 40 years was used to identify and seek perspectives of staff from a variety of clinical disciplines. Inductive thematic analysis was conducted by two researchers.
Participants described significant constraints in how they provide palliative care to hospitalized prisoners. Key themes emerged describing constraints on prisoner health decisions, provision and place of care, patient advocacy, and how care is delivered in the last days of life. Participants highlighted a deep philosophical tension between prison constraints and the foundational principles of palliative care.
Clarity of correctional service processes, protocols, and aspects of security and related training for health professionals is needed to ensure improved care for prisoners with progressive and life-limiting illness. Further research is required to seek the views of prisoners facing end of life and their families.
palliative care, hospital, prisoners, end of life, prison