The family physician’s role in palliative care: Views and experiences of patients with cancer

Emilie Couchman*, Heidi Lempp, Jane Naismith, Patrick White

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Family physicians (FPs) are a vital component of palliative care, yet little is known about how patients understand their FP’s role in palliative care. Aims: This study aimed to explore patients’ views and experiences of: 1. The FP’s role in providing palliative care to patients with cancer 2. The facilitators and barriers to the FP’s ability to fulfil this perceived role. Methods: Qualitative semi-structured interviews, with adults with a cancer diagnosis known to an inner-city hospice in England, were undertaken. Thematic and discourse analysis were applied. Results: Fifteen participants reported their perceptions of the FP’s role in palliative care: prescription management; home visits; care coordination; and emotional support. Observed facilitators and barriers to good FP palliative care were identified: accessibility to FP; continuity of care; FP’s attitude and interpersonal skills; time and staffing levels; FP’s involvement in diagnosis; and communication between primary and secondary care. Conclusion: Accessibility and continuity were highlighted as key challenges within FP palliative care. The broadening responsibilities and competitive pressures facing FPs may undermine their capacity to effectively deliver palliative care. Further research is required to determine optimal models of FP palliative care provision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-200
JournalProgress in Palliative Care
Issue number3
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Oct 2019


  • Cancer
  • Family
  • Palliative Care
  • Physicians, Family
  • Physicians, General Practice
  • Primary Care


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