PURPOSE: There is an increasing demand for the use of quality indicators in palliative care. With previous research about implementation in this field lacking, we aimed to evaluate the barriers to and facilitators of implementation.
METHODS: Three focus group interviews were organized with 21 caregivers from 18 different specialized palliative care services in Belgium. Four had already worked with the indicators during a pilot study. The focus group discussions were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using the thematic framework approach.
RESULTS: The caregivers anticipated that a positive attitude by the team towards quality improvement, the presence of a good leader, and the possible link between quality indicators and reimbursement might facilitate the implementation of quality indicators in specialized palliative care services. Other facilitators concerned the presence of a need to demonstrate quality of care, to perform improvement actions, and to learn from other caregivers and services in the field. A negative attitude by caregivers towards quality measurement and a lack of skills, time, and staff were mentioned as barriers to successful implementation.
CONCLUSION: Palliative caregivers anticipate a number of opportunities and problems when implementing quality indicators. These relate to the attitudes of the team regarding quality measurement; the attitudes, knowledge, and skills of the individual caregivers within the team; and the organizational context and the economic and political context. Training in the advantages of quality indicators and how to use them is indispensable, as are structural changes in the policy concerning palliative care, in order to progress towards systematic quality monitoring.