Systematic review of general practice end-of-life symptom control

This systematic review, supported by PC4, provides a comprehensive description of the role and performance of general practitioners (GPs) in end of life care (EoLC) symptom control. There were 46 included studies, in which most GPs expressed confidence in identifying EoLC symptoms. GPs perceived emotional support as the most important aspect of EoLC but felt that there were barriers to its provision. They felt most comfortable treating pain and although the principles of pain management were understood by GPs, adequate pain control was not always achieved. It was identified that GPs felt least confident when treating dysponea and depression, and were more likely to report lack of confidence in providing EoLC in the beginning of their careers, but this improved with time in practice. This systematic review demonstrates that GP education and training, alongside exposure to EoLC from an early stage in their careers can improve both skill and confidence.

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