Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

J. James Cotter


Hospital-based specialist palliative care services are designed to address the needs of critically ill patients by psychosocial and spiritual support, improving symptoms management, and offering discussions on goals of care. Integrating palliative care upstream in the care continuum for patients who eventually die in the hospital will help to address the many individualistic needs of the critically ill patient. The diffusion of specialist hospital-based palliative care services requires an understanding of patterns of utilization by patients. The purpose of this study was to examine the population characteristics of decedents who may or may not have utilized specialist palliative care services in a hospital setting in order to develop a model of predictors of access to specialist palliative care services. The basic constructs of this study are grounded in the Behavioral Model of Health Services Use. Potential access is measured in terms of population characteristics, which include predisposing characteristics, enabling resources, and evaluated need. Building on this theoretical model, the study sought to better understand equitable and inequitable access to specialized palliative care services and to define which predictors of realized access were dominant. The research question asked was: What are predictors of access to specialized palliative care within a large urban public teaching hospital? A model of access to a palliative consult and a predictor of access to a palliative care unit were explored. Findings from this study revealed that factors encouraging access to a palliative care consult include older age, White non-Hispanic ethnic membership, a diagnosis with solid cancer and insurance. Factors encouraging access to a palliative care unit include older age, gender (female), insurance, and either a solid cancer or hematologic malignancy diagnosis.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2012