The Intersection Between Geriatrics and Palliative Care: A Call for a New Research Agenda

Authors

  • Nathan E. Goldstein MD,

    1. From the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York; and The Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, New York.
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  • R. Sean Morrison MD

    1. From the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, New York; and The Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, New York.
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Address correspondence to Nathan E. Goldstein, MD, Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Adult Development, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, Box 1070, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029. E-mail: Nathan.Goldstein@mssm.edu

Abstract

Palliative care is interdisciplinary treatment focused on the relief of suffering and achieving the best possible quality of life for patients and their caregivers. It differs for geriatric patients from what is usually appropriate in a younger population because of the nature and duration of chronic illness during old age. In spite of the fact that death occurs far more commonly in older people than in any age group, the evidence base for palliative care in older adults is sparse. Over the coming years, the research foci in the field of geriatrics and palliative care that must be addressed include establishing the prevalence of symptoms in patients with chronic disease; evaluating the association between treatment of symptoms and outcomes; increasing the evidence base for treatment of symptoms; understanding psychological well-being, spiritual well-being, and quality of life of patients and elucidating and alleviating sources of caregiver burden; reevaluating service delivery; adapting research methodologies specifically for geriatric palliative care; and increasing the number of geriatricians trained as investigators in palliative care research. This article discusses specific methods to improve the current situation within each of these seven areas.

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