Learning a palliative care approach during the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study in an Infectious Diseases Unit

S. Tanzi, S. Alquati, G. Martucci, L. De Panfilis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Hospital palliative care is an essential part of the COVID-19 response, but relevant data are lacking. The recent literature underscores the need to implement protocols for symptom control and the training of non-specialists by palliative care teams. Aim: The aim of the study was to describe a palliative care unit’s consultation and assistance intervention at the request of an Infectious Diseases Unit during the COVID-19 pandemic, determining what changes needed to be made in delivering palliative care. Design: This is a single holistic case study design using data triangulation, for example, audio recordings of team meetings and field notes. Setting/participants: This study was conducted in the Palliative Care Unit of the AUSL-IRCCS hospital of Reggio Emilia, which has no designated beds, consulting with the Infectious Diseases Unit of the same hospital. Results: A total of 9 physicians and 22 nurses of the Infectious Diseases Unit and two physicians of the Palliative Care Unit participated in the study. Our Palliative Care Unit developed a feasible 18-day multicomponent consultation intervention. Three macro themes were identified: (1) new answers to new needs, (2) symptom relief and decision-making process, and (3) educational and training issues. Conclusion: From the perspective of palliative care, some changes in usual care needed to be made. These included breaking bad news, patients’ use of communication devices, the limited time available for the delivery of care, managing death necessarily only inside the hospital, and relationships with families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1220-1227
Number of pages8
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2020


  • case report
  • Coronavirus
  • education
  • palliative care
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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