Assessment of Palliative Care Needs in a Kenyan Intensive Care Unit Using a Trigger-Based Model

Linda Barasa, Jasmit Shah, John Weru, Sayed K. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Context: Palliative care triggers have been used in the intensive care unit (ICU) setting, usually in high-income countries, to identify patients who may benefit from palliative care consults. The utility and benefits of palliative care triggers in the ICU have not been previously studied in sub-Saharan Africa. Objectives: Our objectives were to determine the prevalence of ICU admissions in those who met at least one palliative care trigger and whether a palliative care consult influenced the length of ICU stay and time to change of goals order. Methods: We conducted a prospective observational cohort study within our ICU at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, between December 2019 and August 2020. Data including initiation of a palliative care consult, length of ICU stay, mortality, and time to change of goals order were collected. Results: During our study period, 72 of 159 (45.9%) patients met at least one palliative care trigger point. Of the patients who met the palliative care triggers, only 29.2% received a palliative care consult. Patients who received palliative care consults had higher rates of change of goals orders signed (52.3%) vs. those who did not (P = 0.009). There was no statistically significant difference between the consult and nonconsult groups in regard to length of ICU stay, time to change of goals order, and mortality. Conclusion: A trigger-based model, geared to the needs of the specific ICU, may be one way of improving integration of palliative care into the ICU, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Palliative care triggers
  • intensive care unit
  • palliative care


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