Progress in palliative care for cancer in Turkey: a review of the literature

25 Nov 2021
Tezer Kutluk, Fahad Ahmed, Mustafa Cemaloğlu, Burça Aydın, Meltem Şengelen, Meral Kirazlı, Sema Yurduşen, Richard Sullivan, Richard Harding

Background: The demographic transition in Turkey is shifting the burden of diseases towards non-communicable diseases including cancer. Palliative care (PC) as a component of Universal Health Coverage assures patient and family-centred care provision throughout the spectrum of cancer.

Objectives: This study aimed to make a detailed evaluation of the progress achieved since the mid-90s and the current situation of cancer PC in Turkey.

Methods: A literature review was conducted in PubMed, Scopus, Embase, ScienceDirect, Web of Science, Google Scholar, The Turkish Academic Network and Information Centre databases, Ministry of Health documents, Council of Higher Education’s thesis 01/1995 to 07/2020. The information was categorised into the six domains: history of the cancer PC; law and regulations; education and research; opioid use; patient care and palliative centres; public awareness, psychosocial support and end of life ethics.

Results: Of 27,489 studies, 331 met the inclusion criteria. The majority were published in the Turkish language and were journal articles. The findings showed that the development of PC in Turkey can be divided into three stages: early initiatives before 2000, the dissemination stage, 2000–2010 and the advanced stage after 2010. There is evidence of progress in terms of legal regulations, opioid use and number of PC services and research output. However, there is still a need for improvement in professional education, public awareness and end of life care.

Conclusion: There is evidence of progress, barriers and opportunities. However, bringing research into practice is needed for scale-up and integration of PC in cancer care in Turkey.

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