Use of a Novel Trigger Tool to Identify Palliative Care Needs in Surgical Patients at a National Referral Hospital in Kenya: A Pilot Study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Background: Addressing unmet palliative care needs in high-risk surgical patients in low- and middle-income countries must include innovative approaches to limitations in personnel and culturally acceptable assessment modalities. Objectives: We assessed the utility of a novel seven-item "Step-1" trigger tool in identifying surgical patients who may benefit from palliative care. Design: All adult patients (≥18 years) on general surgery, neurosurgery, and orthopedic surgery wards were enrolled over a four-month period. Setting/Subjects: This study took place at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH), one of two Kenyan national referral hospitals. Measurements: The "Step-1" trigger tool was administered, capturing provider estimates of prognosis, cancer history, social barriers, admission frequency, hospice history, symptom burden, and functional decline/wasting. A cut-point of ≥3 positive factors was selected, indicating a patient may benefit from palliative care. Results: A total of 411 patients were included for analysis. Twenty-five percent (n = 102) of patients had scores ≥3. The cut-point of ≥3 was significantly associated with identifying high-risk patients (HRP; χ2 = 32.3, p < 0.01), defined as those who died or were palliatively discharged, with a sensitivity and specificity of 63.9% and 78.9%, respectively. Survey questions with the highest overall impact included: "Would you be not surprised if the patient died within 12 months?," "Are there uncontrolled symptoms?," and "Is there functional decline/wasting?" Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates that the "Step-One" trigger tool is a simple and effective method to identify HRP in resource-limited settings. Although this study identified three highly effective questions, the seven-question assessment is flexible and can be adapted to different settings.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Li, HW; Saruni, SI; Carpenter, K; Chepkemoi, E; Ochieng, NA; Obanda, LN; Haskett, L; Cornetta, K; Brown, C; Korir, M; Keung, CH; Kussin, PS

Published Date

  • September 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 10

Start / End Page

  • 1455 - 1460

PubMed ID

  • 33625266

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-7740

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1089/jpm.2020.0669


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States