Evidence-based strategies to strengthen interprofessional communication in palliative care

S. Rubinelli1, M. Bennardi2, C. Gamondi3, G. Stüssi3, P. Salessi3, N. Diviani1 (1Luzern ; 2Nottwil ; 3Bellinzona)


Palliative care (PC) services seek to improve quality of life of patients with life-threatening conditions. Despite their high-value contribution to patient care, PC faces significant challenges. One of the most reported challenges is the difficulty to engage in optimal interprofessional communication at different levels. 


To identify key-evidence based strategies to strengthen interprofessional collaboration and cooperation, with a focus on the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. 


This presentation is based on results of two types of research:

A) A qualitative interview- and focus group-based multicenter study. Fifty people employed in various institutions in Italian speaking Switzerland (healthcare professionals, allied healthcare professionals and key informants) were interviewed. Interviews were analyzed using framework analysis. 

B) Results from research A were contextualized in light of evidence-based strategies of interprofessional communication as found in the literature in health communication. 


Main obstacles to interprofessional communication in palliative care include:

  • lack of knowledge and appreciation of the role of other health professionals;
  • the often hierarchical administrative and education structures;
  • the perceived different roles and positions within the various teams and the fact of not feeling the responsibility to promote such a collaboration;
  • the traditions and professional cultures of the various health professionals;
  • the lack of time to think “outside the boxes” of daily duties;
  • the lack of frameworks and models for interdisciplinary collaboration.

To address the above difficulties, the literature offers main strategies: 

  • to learn about other professions and to enrich and improve self-reflection of their own professions;
  • to develop attitudes that are positive towards sharing responsibility for patient care;
  • to agree on scopes and goals of healthcare, with a clear identification of the specific role of each health professional;
  • to identify different skills and knowledge of the different health professionals within a comprehensive framework. 


Fruitful interprofessional collaboration in palliative care requires educational and training activities. These include formal and informal initiatives to build not only skills, but also self-perspectives and attitudes.