Author(s): Morita T, Kizawa Y
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Abstract PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Providing palliative care in Japan is one of the most important health issues. Understanding palliative care delivery systems of other countries is useful when developing and modifying palliative care systems worldwide. This review summarizes the current status of palliative care in Japan, focusing on the structure and process development. RECENT FINDINGS: Palliative care units and hospital palliative care consultation teams are the two main specialized palliative care services in Japan. The number of palliative care units is 215 (involved in 8.4\% of all cancer deaths), and there are approximately 500 hospital palliative care teams. Conversely, specialized home care services are one of the most undeveloped areas in Japan. However, the government has been trying to develop more efficient home care services through modifying laws, healthcare systems, and multiple educational and cooperative projects. The numbers of palliative care specialists are increasing across all disciplines: cancer pain nurses (1365), palliative care nurses (1100), palliative care physicians (646), and palliative care pharmacists (238). Postgraduate education for physicians is performed via the special nationwide efforts of the Palliative care Emphasis program on symptom management and Assessment for Continuous medical Education (PEACE) project - a 2-day program adopting a trainer-trainee strategy. Over 30,000 physicians have participated in the PEACE program. A total of 1298 and 544 physicians have completed a trainer course for palliative medicine and psycho-oncology, respectively. Multiple structure and process evaluation, bereaved family surveys in palliative care units, and patient and family evaluation in the regional palliative care program indicate many improvements. SUMMARY: Palliative care in Japan has progressed rapidly, and the Cancer Control Act has played a very important role in developing palliative medicine. Challenges include developing a structure for palliative care in the community or regional palliative care programs, establishing a method to measure and improve the quality of palliative care at a national level, developing evidence-based medicine and policy making, and palliative care for the noncancerous population.
This article was published in Curr Opin Support Palliat Care
and referenced in Journal of Pharmaceutical Care & Health Systems