Lung transplant pulmonologists' views of specialty palliative care for lung transplant recipients

Eric Nolley, Jessica Fleck, Dio Kavalieratos, Mary Amanda Dew, Daniel Dilling, Rebecca Colman, Maria M. Crespo, Hiliary Goldberg, Steven Hays, Ramsey Hachem, Erika Lease, James Lee, John Reynolds, Matthew Morrell, Yael Schenker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Lung transplant recipients with serious illness may benefit from but rarely receive specialty palliative care (SPC) services. Transplant pulmonologists' views of SPC may be key to understanding SPC utilization but have not been well characterized. Objectives: (1) To understand how transplant pulmonologists view SPC and decide to refer transplant recipients and (2) to identify unique aspects of lung transplantation that may influence referral decisions. Design: We conducted semistructured interviews with transplant pulmonologists at nine geographically diverse high-volume North American transplant centers with SPC services. A multidisciplinary team analyzed interview transcripts using constant comparative methods to inductively develop and refine a coding framework related to SPC views and referral decisions. Results: We interviewed 38 transplant pulmonologists; most (36/38) had referred lung transplant recipients to SPC. Participants described SPC as a medical specialty that aims to improve quality of life and distinguished SPC from hospice care, which was considered end-of-life care. Participants who viewed transplant as a temporary solution (n = 17/38, 45%) described earlier utilization of SPC alongside disease-directed therapies, whereas those who viewed transplant as survival-focused (n = 21/38, 55%) described utilization of SPC after disease-directed therapies were exhausted. Concerns about one-year survival metrics and use of addicting medications for symptom palliation were barriers to referral. Conclusions: Transplant pulmonologists' SPC referral practices may be related to their views of lung transplantation. Optimizing use of SPC in lung transplantation will require improving communication between transplant pulmonology and SPC to ensure a collaborative effort toward patient-centered goals while addressing unique barriers to SPC referral.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-626
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020


  • lung transplantation
  • palliative care
  • solid organ transplantation


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