COVID-19 and palliative medicine: faith-based hospitals in India

Jenifer Jeba Sundararaj, Daniel Munday, Savita Duomai, Priya John, Ruby Priscilla, Ashita Singh, Ruth Powys, Kirsty Boyd, Liz Grant, Scott Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Faith Based Organisations (FBO) in India provide health services particularly to marginalised communities. We studied their preparedness and delivery of palliative care during COVID-19 as part of a mixed-method study. We present the results of an online questionnaire.
All FBOs providing palliative care in India were invited to complete an online questionnaire. Descriptive analysis was undertaken.
Response rate was 46/64(72%); 44 provided palliative care; 30/44(68%) were in rural or semi-urban areas with 10-2700 beds. Fifty-two percent (23/44) had dedicated palliative care teams and 30/44(68%) provided it as part of general services;17/44(39%) provided both. 29/44(66%) provided palliative care for cancer patients;17/44(34%) reported that this was more than half their workload.
The pandemic led to reduced clinical work: hospital 36/44(82%) and community
40/44(91%); with reduction in hospital income for 41/44(93%). 18/44(44%) were designated government COVID-19 centres; 11/40(32%) had admitted between one-2230 COVID-19 patients. COVID-19 brought challenges: 14/44(32%) lacked PPE; 21/44(48%) had reduced hospital supplies and 19/44(43%) lacked key medications including morphine. 29/44(66%) reported reduction in palliative care work; 7/44(16%) had stopped altogether. Twenty-three percent
(10/44) reported redeployment of palliative care teams to other work. For those providing, palliative care 32/37(86%) was principally for non-COVID patients; 13/37(35%) cared for COVID-19 patients. Service adaptations included: tele-consultation, triaged home-visits, medication delivery at home and food supply.
FBOs in India providing palliative care had continued to do so despite multiple challenges. Services were adapted to enable ongoing patient care. Further research is exploring the effects of COVID-19 in greater depth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number002924
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalBMJ Supportive & Palliative Care
Issue number0
Early online date16 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19, Home care, Hospital care


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