Table of Contents
International Journal of Palliative Care
Volume 2014, Article ID 529681, 7 pages
Review Article

What Proportion of Terminally Ill and Dying People Require Specialist Palliative Care Services?

Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada T6G 1C9

Received 22 May 2014; Revised 4 September 2014; Accepted 5 September 2014; Published 11 September 2014

Academic Editor: Franco Toscani

Copyright © 2014 Donna M. Wilson and Boris Woytowich. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Currently, around 55 million people die each year worldwide. That number is expected to increase rapidly with accelerating population aging. Despite growth in the number of palliative care specialists and specialist services in most countries, the prospect of an increasing number of terminally ill and dying persons is daunting. This paper attempts to answer the question: what proportion of terminally ill and dying persons require specialist palliative care services? To address this question and highlight which persons require specialist palliative care, the current state of access to specialist palliative care services and specialists in Canada and other countries is highlighted, along with available evidence-based information on specialist services utilization and the care needs of terminally ill and dying persons. Current evidence and information gaps reveal that this question cannot be answered now, but it should be answered in advance of a crisis of unmet end-of-life care needs with the rising death toll.