“It is one of my most important tasks, to accompany them until the very end”
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Background: Most people wish to spend the last phase of their lives in their own home, which attaches overwhelming importance to outpatient palliative care. This study explores which provision of care leads to outpatient palliative care being experienced as particularly positive or negative, respectively, by different participants.Methods: Using the critical incident technique focused interviews (n = 16) were conducted with patients, relatives, family physicians, medical assistants and nurses. Participants were asked to address a particularly positive or negative experience, respectively, in the palliative care setting. For the qualitative analysis we used coding methods according to the principles of grounded theory.Results: For a positive experience five characteristics were identified: 1. continuous care to build relationships and trust; 2. family-physician-centered care enabling family physicians to fulfil their role as the first point of contact for patients; 3. coordinated care for the arrangement and organization of different disciplines and services; 4. proactive care for timely identification of potential problems and allowing targeted actions, and 5. case orientation focusing on individual needs.Conclusions: The criteria for outpatient palliative care that are perceived as suitable are in line with the core mission and the professional understanding of family medicine. Greater family-physician-centered care can contribute to patient-oriented palliative care tailored to specific needs.