Public Health Perspective of Primary Palliative Care: A Review through the Lenses of General Practitioners

Shrikant Atreya, Soumitra Datta, Naveen Salins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The rising trend of chronic life-threatening illnesses is accompanied by an exponential increase in serious health-related suffering. Palliative care is known to ameliorate physical and psychosocial suffering and restore quality of life. However, the contemporary challenges of palliative care delivery, such as changing demographics, social isolation, inequity in service delivery, and professionalisation of dying, have prompted many to adopt a public health approach to palliative care delivery. A more decentralised approach in which palliative care is integrated into primary care will ensure that the care is available locally to those who need it and at a cost that they can afford. General practitioners (GPs) play a pivotal role in providing primary palliative care in the community. They ensure that care is provided in alignment with patients’ and their families’ wishes along the trajectory of the life-threatening illness and at the patient’s preferred place. GPs use an interdisciplinary approach by collaborating with specialist palliative care teams and other healthcare professionals. However, they face challenges in providing end-of-life care in the community, which include identification of patients in need of palliative care, interpersonal communication, addressing patients’ and caregivers’ needs, clarity in roles and responsibilities between GPs and specialist palliative care teams, coordination of service with specialists and lack of confidence in providing palliative care in view of deficiencies in knowledge and skills in palliative care. Multiple training formats and learning styles for GPs in end-of-life care have been explored across studies. The research has yielded mixed results in terms of physician performance and patient outcomes. This calls for more research on GPs’ views on end-of-life care learning preferences, as this might inform policy and practice and facilitate future training programs in end-of-life care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-235
Number of pages7
JournalIndian Journal of Palliative Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 07-2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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