Penn State researchers to study need for hospice care in rural Pennsylvania

Categories: Research.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania will enable researchers in the College of Nursing and the Department of Health Policy and Administration in the College of Health and Human Development to assess the need for hospice and palliative care in rural Pennsylvania.

Co-investigators Lisa Kitko, associate professor of nursing, and Joel Segel, assistant professor of health policy and administration, will analyze Medicare data to determine current and future demand for hospice services in rural Pennsylvania. In addition, their team — which also includes graduate assistant Elizabeth Thiede, a student in the Ph.D. Degree Program in Nursing — will conduct interviews with hospice and palliative care providers to identify challenges and opportunities for delivering these services.

“We want to examine how hospice utilization and availability varies across Pennsylvania, and whether any contextual factors — particularly in rural areas — may contribute to those differences,” Kitko said. “Further, we want to provide guidance for health care professionals, administrators and policymakers to develop programs and policies that will address the unique needs of this region.”

After the data has been analyzed and interpreted, the team will discuss the policies currently in place and how they can be updated to better serve patients who receive hospice and palliative care.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, works to maximize resources and strategies that can better serve Pennsylvania’s nearly 3.4 million rural residents.

“We look forward to working with Penn State to assure this project produces useful, beneficial research that will help to improve conditions in rural Pennsylvania,” said Mary Kandray Gelenser, program manager for grants at the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.