Objective: Palliative care consultation teams have become part of all Japanese regional cancer centers. However, the current status and issues regarding specialized palliative care service in the cancer centers have yet to be clarified. Therefore, we conducted a nationwide survey of the current status of palliative care service in all Japanese regional cancer centers in 2007. Methods: A self-reported cross-sectional survey questionnaire was mailed to all regional cancer centers in Japan. The structure and process of activities of palliative care service were included in the survey questions. Results: A total of 242 of 288 institutions (84%) returned the questionnaires. Responses indicated that 99% had palliative care consultation teams. For the structure of palliative care consultation service, there were 73 ± 133 (mean ± standard deviation) referred patients per year and ~90% had discharge and home care support for patients who needed palliative care; 31% had no available consultation service during the daytime on weekdays. For the process of palliative care consultation service, 90% defined the palliative care consultation request methods, 92% implemented seminars about palliative care for health-care workers in the hospital and 31% had joint meetings with the clinics and home nursing station in the community. Conclusions: Palliative care services have rapidly been developed and implemented in Japan. However, to improve the quality of palliative care services and provide more specialized palliative care within the limits of resources, it will be necessary to review the system in the future.
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