Emerging Collaboration Between Palliative Care Specialists and Mechanical Circulatory Support Teams: A Qualitative Study

Alana Sagin, James N. Kirkpatrick, Barbara A. Pisani, Beth B. Fahlberg, Annika L. Sundlof, Nina R. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Context Despite national requirements mandating collaboration between palliative care specialists and mechanical circulatory support (MCS) teams at institutions that place destination therapy ventricular assist devices, little is known about the nature of those collaborations or outcomes for patients and families. Objectives To assess how Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' regulations have changed collaboration between palliative care and MCS teams and how this collaboration is perceived by MCS team members. Methods After obtaining verbal consent, members of MCS teams were interviewed using semistructured telephone interviews. Interviews were transcribed, and content was coded and analyzed using qualitative methods. Results Models for collaboration varied widely between institutions. Several expected themes emerged from interviews: 1) improvements over time in the relationship between palliative care specialists and MCS teams, 2) palliative care specialists as facilitators of advance care planning, and 3) referral to hospice and ventricular assist device deactivation as specific areas for collaboration. Several unexpected themes also emerged: 4) the emergence of dedicated heart failure palliative care teams, 5) palliative care specialists as impartial voices in decision making, 6) palliative care specialists as extra support for MCS team members, and 7) the perception of improved patient and family experiences with palliative care team exposure. Conclusion Although the structure of collaboration varies between institutions, collaboration between MCS teams and palliative care specialists is increasing and often preceded the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirement. Overall impressions of palliative care specialists are highly positive, with perceptions of improved patient and family experience and decreased burden on MCS team members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-497.e1
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Palliative care
  • mechanical circulatory support
  • qualitative research
  • ventricular assist devices

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Emerging Collaboration Between Palliative Care Specialists and Mechanical Circulatory Support Teams: A Qualitative Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this