An investigation of the challenges to coordination at the interface of primary and specialized palliative care services in Switzerland: A qualitative interview study
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Good coordination of healthcare services is vital for ensuring health cost efficiency and high-quality care for patients. It is especially important in the context of palliative care as services are often highly fragmented due to a combination of diverse professional groups, organizations, and approaches to care. However, the coordination of services in this field is often evaluated as insufficient. Little is known about the challenges to coordination in this sector in Switzerland. The present study addresses this gap in research by investigating the challenges to coordination at the interface of palliative care services in Switzerland. Interviews (n = 24) with 38 healthcare practitioners working in palliative care in four cantons (Basel-City, Lucerne, Ticino, and Vaud) form the basis for this investigation. The selected cantons not only represent French, Italian, and German language regions of Switzerland but also represent diverse rural, urban, and historical contexts. Expert interviews are analyzed using structural content analysis. Three clusters of challenges to coordination were identified in the data: (1) organizational challenges to coordination, which relate to explicit forms of coordination; (2) relational challenges to coordination; and (3) structural challenges to coordination, which relate to implicit forms of coordination. The study reveals a need for better financial support for coordination in palliative care and a stronger focus on interprofessional coordination in educating professionals in palliative care. Future research on how to further foster good team coordination practices between primary and specialized palliative services merits further investigation. Since these findings are indicative of areas for improvement for coordination at the interface of Swiss palliative care services, they are of particular interest for healthcare practitioners, policymakers, and researchers involved in the evolution of coordinative practice.