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Virtual models of care for people with palliative care needs living in their own home: A systematic meta-review and narrative synthesis

Disalvo, Domenica; Agar, Meera; Caplan, Gideon; Murtagh, Fliss E.M.; Luckett, Tim; Heneka, Nicole; Hickman, Louise; Kinchin, Irina; Trethewie, Susan; Sheehan, Caitlin; Urban, Kat; Cohen, Joshua; Harlum, Janeane; Long, Brian; Parker, Tricia; Schaefer, Isabelle; Phillips, Jane


Domenica Disalvo

Meera Agar

Gideon Caplan

Tim Luckett

Nicole Heneka

Louise Hickman

Irina Kinchin

Susan Trethewie

Caitlin Sheehan

Kat Urban

Joshua Cohen

Janeane Harlum

Brian Long

Tricia Parker

Isabelle Schaefer

Jane Phillips


Background: Access to palliative care in the community enables people to live in their preferred place of care, which is often home. Community palliative care services struggle to provide timely 24-h services to patients and family. This has resulted in calls for ‘accessible and flexible’ models of care that are ‘responsive’ to peoples’ changing palliative care needs. Digital health technologies provide opportunities to meet these requirements 24-h a day. Aim: To identify digital health technologies that have been evaluated for supporting timely assessment and management of people living at home with palliative care needs and/or their carer(s), and the evidence-base for each. Design: A systematic review of systematic reviews (‘meta-review’). Systematic reviews evaluating evidence for virtual models of palliative or end-of-life care using one or more digital health technologies were included. Systematic reviews were evaluated using the Risk of Bias Tool for Systematic Reviews. A narrative approach was used to synthesise results. Data sources: Medline, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL and Cochrane Database of systematic reviews were searched for English-language reviews published between 2015 and 2020. Results: The search yielded 2266 articles, of which 12 systematic reviews met criteria. Sixteen reviews were included in total, after four reviews were found via handsearching. Other than scheduled telehealth, video-conferencing, or after-hours telephone support, little evidence was found for digital health technologies used to deliver virtual models of palliative care. Conclusions: There are opportunities to test new models of virtual care, beyond telehealth and/or video conferencing, such as 24-h command centres, and rapid response teams. Systematic review registration number: Prospero CRD42020200266


Disalvo, D., Agar, M., Caplan, G., Murtagh, F. E., Luckett, T., Heneka, N., …Phillips, J. (in press). Virtual models of care for people with palliative care needs living in their own home: A systematic meta-review and narrative synthesis. Palliative medicine,

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date May 10, 2021
Online Publication Date Jun 25, 2021
Deposit Date Jun 26, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jul 20, 2021
Journal Palliative Medicine
Print ISSN 0269-2163
Electronic ISSN 1477-030X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Virtual care; Palliative care; Telehealth; eHealth; Rapid response; Remote patient monitoring; Digital health technology; Community
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