Best Practices for Public Policies for Palliative Care Physical Therapy: A Critical Review of the Literature


Introduction and Purpose: In comparison to the volume of patients living with a chronic disease or life threating illness, there remains insufficient availability and affordability of both palliative care (PC) and physical therapy (PT) services. The purpose of this study was to examine the benefits to integration of PT within PC and identify opportunities to improve public policy initiatives to facilitate integration of PT and PC. Methods: A critical review of the literature and perspective regarding PT within PC. Results: The evidence for the importance of PT in PC stems from multiple factors such as reduction in cost, decreased length of stay, fewer hospital readmissions, improved patient/provider satisfaction, increase in quality of life, and symptom management. Further integration of PT within PC and the associated benefits are heavily influenced by choices made in public policy. Discussion: Public policies that should be addressed include regulation reform of payment and reimbursement, modernization of legislation for access and referrals to PT, institutional support of education for key PT and PC stakeholders and increased funding for support of PT involvement in PC.



Health care reform, Medicare, Palliative care, Physical therapy