[Role of anesthesiology in pain medicine and palliative care treatment in German hospitals : Survey of department heads of anesthesiology on treatment structures].

Erlenwein, J; Petzke, F; Stamer, Ulrike; Meißner, W; Nauck, F; Pogatzki-Zahn, E; Koppert, W; Maier, C (2017). [Role of anesthesiology in pain medicine and palliative care treatment in German hospitals : Survey of department heads of anesthesiology on treatment structures]. Der Anaesthesist, 66(8), pp. 579-588. Springer 10.1007/s00101-017-0309-1

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BACKGROUND The aim of this analysis was to describe the role of anesthesiology departments in pain medicine and palliative care services in German hospitals. METHOD In the year 2012, all heads of departments of anesthesiology registered with the German Society of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine were surveyed about structures of pain medicine and palliative care services in their hospitals using a standardized postal questionnaire. RESULTS Out of 408 returned questionnaires (response rate 47%) 403 could be evaluated. Of the hospitals 58% had a designated pain medicine service, in 36 (9%) of the hospitals this was organized as an independent department and in 195 (57%) as part of another department, mostly the department of anesthesiology. The "pain clinic" as an outpatient service was the most common form of structure for pain medicine services (41%). Inpatient pain medicine units were available in 77 (19%) of the hospitals and a partial inpatient unit in the form of a day hospital in 26 (7%) of the hospitals. For the care of inpatients from other departments, there was an intrahospital pain consultation service in 166 of the hospitals, which was the only structure for pain medicine in 32 of the 231 hospitals that reported having a designated pain medicine service. In 160 pain medicine services anesthesiologists were the only medical practitioners and in a further 18 both anesthesiologists and other specialists were available (orthopedist/orthopedic surgeons n = 6, internal medicine n = 4, psychiatrist n = 2, general practitioner = 1 and neurologist n = 1). Only two hospitals had no anesthesiologist in the pain medicine team and for the remaining 51 hospitals no information was provided. In 189 of the 231 hospitals with pain medicine services, there was at least 1 physician with special qualifications in pain management. In 97 (44%) of the hospitals psychologists were part of the team with 53 having at least 1 psychologist with a special qualification in chronic pain management. Of the hospitals, 16% had a specialized department for palliative care, in 32% a specialized palliative care service was part of another department, which was the department of anesthesiology in 30%. Of the hospitals 56% had a palliative care consultation service, 41% had a specialized inpatient palliative care unit, 6% an outpatient clinic, 4% a day hospital and in 16% a specialized outpatient palliative care (SOPC) serving the community was incorporated. Inpatient consultation services and the SOPC were more common when the department of anesthesiology was involved in the palliative care services. CONCLUSION In German hospitals, the departments of anesthesiology make a significant contribution to the provision of both pain medicine and palliative care services. Nevertheless, the respective structures of care are often incomplete or even lacking. There were shortcomings in terms of organization and qualification of the team in pain medicine services (e.g. no doctor with special qualifications in pain management or no psychologist). Palliative care services are more often organized as independent departments than as pain medicine services. Engagement of the anesthesiology department in palliative care is linked to a broader scope of the services provided, which might reflect the capacity of many anesthesiologists to work in an interdisciplinary manner and across interfaces.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Intensive Care, Emergency Medicine and Anaesthesiology (DINA) > Clinic and Policlinic for Anaesthesiology and Pain Therapy

UniBE Contributor:

Stamer, Ulrike


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Jeannie Wurz

Date Deposited:

17 Aug 2017 12:35

Last Modified:

12 Jul 2018 09:09

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Acute Pain Service; Anaesthesiology; Chronic Pain; Pain medicine; Palliative Care





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