Vol 15, No 3 (2021)
Review paper
Published online: 2021-05-26

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The terms supportive and palliative care — analysis of their prevalence and use: quasi-systematic review

Bartosz Kamil Sobocki1, Mateusz Guziak2
DOI: 10.5603/PMPI.2021.0014
Palliat Med Pract 2021;15(3):248-253.


Introduction. The terms supportive and palliative care — analysis of their prevalence and use: quasi-systematic

Methods. The authors conducted a quasi-systematic review of literature obtained from MEDLINE and Google Scholar, with the use of the following terms: palliative care, supportive care, palliative and supportive care. The article was supplemented with manually added information sources and the use of Google Trends. The authors also analysed the frequency with which the term 'supportive care' was used in literature compared to the term 'palliative care'.

Results. It was demonstrated that the term 'palliative care' is more frequently used in scientific literature, and the median of the ratio of the use of the terms supportive care/palliative care in the analysed texts is 0.51. The term 'palliative care' is also more often searched in Google than the term supportive 'care' (74:4). Differences in the prevalence of both terms also depend on the country from which users searched a given phrase. The term 'palliative care' evokes more negative emotions and is less preferred by medical staff and patients' families than the term 'supportive care', which has more positive connotations. Supportive care is most often viewed as an element of oncologic care, while palliative care is believed to be a stand-alone field of medicine that can treat patients from all of is areas.

Conclusions. Despite being more positively perceived by patients, the term 'supportive care’ is still used less frequently. Even though the terms 'supportive care' and 'palliative care' are precisely defined, many authors use them relatively freely. Knowledge should be systematized, nomenclature — clarified and the term 'supportive care' as an alternative to the term 'palliative care' should be popularized.

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