Effectiveness of eHealth Interventions and Information Needs in Palliative Care: A Systematic Literature Review
BACKGROUND One of the key components in palliative care is communication. eHealth technologies can be an effective way to support communications among participants in the process of palliative care. However, it is unclear to what extent information technology has been established in this field. OBJECTIVE Our goal was to systematically identify studies and analyze the effectiveness of eHealth interventions in palliative care and the information needs of people involved in the palliative care process. METHODS We conducted a systematic literature search using PubMed, Embase, and LILACS according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. We collected and analyzed quantitative and qualitative data regarding effectiveness of eHealth interventions and users' information needs in palliative care. RESULTS Our search returned a total of 240 articles, 17 of which met our inclusion criteria. We found no randomized controlled trial studying the effects of eHealth interventions in palliative care. Studies tended to be observational, non-controlled studies, and a few quasi-experimental studies. Overall there was great heterogeneity in the types of interventions and outcome assessments; some studies reported some improvement on quality of care, documentation effort, cost, and communications. The most frequently reported information need concerned pain management. CONCLUSIONS There is limited evidence around the effectiveness of eHealth interventions for palliative care patients, caregivers, and health care professionals. Focused research on information needs and high-quality clinical trials to assess their effectiveness are needed.