Original Article| Volume 62, ISSUE 2, P260-266, August 2021

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



      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.


      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.

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