Evaluating palliative care needs in middle eastern countries

Michael Silbermann, Regina M. Fink*, Sung Joon Min, Mary P. Mancuso, Jeannine Brant, Ramzi Hajjar, Nesreen Al-Alfi, Lea Baider, Ibrahim Turker, Karima Elshamy, Ibtisam Ghrayeb, Mazin Al-Jadiry, Khaled Khader, Sultan Kav, Haris Charalambous, Ruchan Uslu, Rejin Kebudi, Gil Barsela, Nilgün Kuruku, Kamer MutafogluGulsin Ozalp-Senel, Amitai Oberman, Livia Kislev, Mohammad Khleif, Neophyta Keoppi, Sophia Nestoros, Rasha Fahmi Abdalla, Maryam Rassouli, Amira Morag, Ron Sabar, Omar Nimri, Mohammad Al-Qadire, Murad Al-Khalaileh, Mona Tayyem, Myrna Doumit, Rehana Punjwani, Osaid Rasheed, Fatimah Fallatah, Gulbeyaz Can, Jamila Ahmed, Debbie Strode

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Cancer incidence in Middle Eastern countries, most categorized as low-and middle-income, is predicted to double in the next 10 years, greater than in any other part of the world. While progress has been made in cancer diagnosis/treatment, much remains to be done to improve palliative care for the majority of patients with cancer who present with advanced disease.

Objective: To determine knowledge, beliefs, barriers, and resources regarding palliative care services in Middle Eastern countries and use findings to inform future educational and training activities.

Design: Descriptive survey.

Setting/Subjects: Fifteen Middle Eastern countries; convenience sample of 776 nurses (44.3%), physicians (38.3%) and psychosocial, academic, and other health care professionals (17.4%) employed in varied settings. Measurements: Palliative care needs assessment.

Results: Improved pain management services are key facilitators. Top barriers include lack of designated palliative care beds/services, community awareness, staff training, access to hospice services, and personnel/time. The nonexistence of functioning home-based and hospice services leaves families/providers unable to honor patient wishes. Respondents were least satisfied with discussions around advance directives and wish to learn more about palliative care focusing on communication techniques. Populations requiring special consideration comprise: patients with ethnic diversity, language barriers, and low literacy; pediatric and young adults; and the elderly.

Conclusions: The majority of Middle Eastern patients with cancer are treated in outlying regions; the community is pivotal and must be incorporated into future plans for developing palliative care services. Promoting palliative care education and certification for physicians and nurses is crucial; home-based and hospice services must be sustained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-25
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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