Engagement of specialized palliative care services with the general public: a population-level survey in three European countries

Aline De Vleminck, Sally Paul, Maria Reinius, Libby Sallnow, Carol Tishelman, Joachim Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


Background: There is growing recognition of a need for community capacity development around serious illness, dying and loss, complementary to strategies focussing on health services. Hitherto, little is known about how and to what extent palliative care services in different countries are adopting these ideas in their practices. Aim: To examine views towards and actual involvement in community engagement activities as reported by specialized palliative care services in Belgium, Sweden and the UK. Design, setting, participants: Cross-sectional survey among all eligible specialized palliative care services in Flanders (Belgium) ( n = 50), Sweden ( n = 129) and the UK ( n = 245). Representatives of these services were invited to complete an online questionnaire about their actual activities with the general public and their attitudes regarding such activities. Results: Response rates were 90% (Belgium), 71% (Sweden) and 49% (UK). UK services more often reported engaging with the general public to develop knowledge and skills through a range of activities (80%–90%) compared to Belgian (31%–71%) and Swedish services (19%–38%). Based on a combination of engagement activities 74% of UK services could be labelled as extending their focus beyond the clinical mandate compared to 16% in Belgium and 7% in Sweden. Services’ dependency on charitable donations was strongly associated with increased engagement with the general public. Conclusion: An expansion of the mandate of specialized palliative care services beyond a traditional clinically-oriented focus towards one inclusive of community capacity building around serious illness, dying and loss is occurring in different countries, albeit to different degrees and with different intensities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalPalliative Medicine
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2022


  • palliative care
  • hospices
  • Belgium
  • United Kingdom
  • Sweden
  • survey
  • community participation
  • social participation

Cite this