Conclusion: The findings of this study justify the goals of the Expert Centre such as the improvement of somatic and psychosocial care and consultation. Objective: A recent review showed that little attention is paid to palliative care for head and neck patients. The Erasmus MC has initiated an Expert Centre of Palliative Care Head and Neck Oncology with special interest in patient care, consultation and research. In this study the experience of general practitioners (GPs) in their care of palliative head and neck cancer patients before the start of the Expert Centre is assessed. The aim of the study was to find possible gaps in care and communication and to use GP's ideas to improve the centre's functioning. Materials and methods: Fifty-five GPs with a patient in their practice who died from head and neck cancer between January 2003 and July 2004 after being treated in the Erasmus MC were included. The GPs were asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their experience in the care of palliative head and neck cancer patients, the communication between first- and third-line care providers and the work of both the GP and the specialist involved. Results: The response rate was 75%. The palliative stage lasted approximately 4 months. The GPs felt that symptom control was generally not sufficient. Also improvements were necessary in psychosocial care and in the communication between first- and third-line care providers. They also experienced gaps in their knowledge of specific head and neck oncologic palliative care.

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Acta Oto-Laryngologica
Department of Otorhinolaryngology

Ledeboer, Q., van der Velden, L. A., de Boer, M., Feenstra, L., & Pruyn, J. (2006). Palliative care for head and neck cancer patients in general practice. Acta Oto-Laryngologica, 126(9), 975–980. doi:10.1080/00016480600606764