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INTRODUCTION: Emerging evidence suggests improved quality of life, reduced symptom burden and lower health services costs when integrated palliative care and cancer care are implemented. Integrated palliative care aims to achieve care continuity by integrating organisational, administrative and clinical services involved in patient care networks. However, integrated palliative care for cancer is not common practice. This project, therefore, aims to understand how integrated palliative care and cancer care works in different healthcare settings (inpatient/outpatient), and for which groups of people (at what stage of the cancer journey), so we can develop guidance for optimal delivery. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: We will conduct a realist synthesis to develop a programme theory of how integrated palliative care in cancer works, for whom and in what contexts to achieve improved symptom management and quality of life for patients and their families.This realist synthesis will follow the five stages outlined by Pawson: (1) locating existing theories, (2) searching for evidence, (3) article selection, (4) extracting and organising data and (5) synthesising the evidence and drawing conclusions. We will work closely with our expert stakeholder group, which includes health and social care professionals providing palliative care and oncology; management and policy groups and members of the public and patients. We will adhere to RAMESES quality standards for undertaking a realist synthesis. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethics approval for this project is not required.The realist synthesis will develop a programme theory that provides clarity on the optimal delivery of palliative care for adults with cancer. We will use the programme theory to coproduce guidance and user-friendly outputs, working with stakeholders to inform delivery of best practice. Findings will inform further research in integrated palliative care and cancer. Stakeholder engagement will assist in the dissemination of our findings. PROSPERO REGISTRATION NUMBER: CRD42023389791.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

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