This research study aimed to describe preferences about factors related to receiving information regarding medical treatments and palliative care (PC) options for adult patients with a poor prognosis and/or their primary decision maker. A single-group descriptive study design and content analysis were utilized. Seven trained registered nurse (RN) study team members conducted interviews to obtain narrative data. All study participants preferred to learn PC services earlier in the illness trajectory and desired to learn about this service from nurses. Most reported a desire to have spouses and family involved in decisions about PC. Nearly all wanted to understand PC options ahead of time should treatment not go as planned.
Gabriel García Márquez opens Chronicle of a Death Foretold with a brutal finality: a man is murdered in the doorway of his home. Hundreds of pages later, the reader has some insight into why the death happened, but the event itself is never in doubt.
Like the famous novel, the mortality follow-back study is a subset of case design, constructed in reverse time: collect a set of patients who have some outcome—in this case, death—under some defined set of circumstances or with some defined condition, and look back to understand the days, weeks, or years leading up to that event. This study design is abundant in the cancer literature to understand end-of-life care patterns, costs, and experiences of death. More recently this design has been applied to the ESKD population. This is a population where mortality rates exceed those of the major cancer subtypes, so patient death is a common event, and one of great interest to clinicians and epidemiologists alike.
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BACKGROUND: In pediatric hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), the end-of-life (EOL) phase and the loss of the child is often characterized by a sudden deterioration of the child following a period of intensive curative treatment. This demands a fast transition for parents. Therefore, an understanding of the parents' perspective on decision-making in such a complex situation is needed. This study aims to gain insight in parental experiences in EOL decision-making in allogeneic pediatric HSCT.
METHODS: A qualitative descriptive study was performed among parents of eight families. Data were thematically analyzed.
RESULTS: All parents were aware of their child's deterioration. Six families were confronted with a rapid deterioration, while two families experienced a gradual realization that their child would not survive. Parental EOL decision-making in pediatric HSCT shows a reflective perspective on the meaning of parenthood in EOL decision-making. Two central themes were identified: "survival-oriented decision-making" and "struggling with doubts in hindsight." Six subthemes within the first theme described the parents' goal of doing everything to achieve survival.
DISCUSSION: Parents experienced EOL decision-making mainly as a process guided by health care professionals (HCPs) based on the child's condition and treatment possibilities. The decision-making is characterized by following opportunities and focusing on hope for cure. In hindsight parents experienced doubts about treatment steps and their child's suffering. HCPs can strengthen the parental role by an early integration of palliative care, providing timely support to parents in the process of imminent loss. Advance care planning can be used to support communication processes, defining preferences for future care.
Purpose: Many patients with advanced cancer choose palliative chemotherapy. Considering its purpose of palliation and not treatment, it is important to consider the life of family caregivers. Family caregivers who experience bereavement undergo extreme stress, which is particularly high among patients’ spouses. The present study aims to clarify the experiences of the spouses of patients at the hospitals in Japan after the notification of palliative chemotherapy discontinuation until bereavement.
Method: We interviewed the spouses of 13 patients who received palliative chemotherapy using a semistructured interview guide. Each spouse was interviewed twice. The interviews were transcribed verbatim, and key concepts were identified using a grounded theory analytic approach.
Results: After the hospital's recommendation for palliative chemotherapy discontinuation, the spouses had “bewilderment over having to discontinue palliative chemotherapy” and experienced “difficulty in facing bereavement.” The spouses having “difficulty to give up hope for the patient's survival,” felt “bafflement over caregiving at the terminal stage,” which would be their responsibility in the future. Further, they had “hesitation in being honest to the patient” and were engaged in “knowing how to live with the patient until bereavement.“
Conclusion: Nurses need to encourage the patients and spouses to honestly express how they feel from the early stages of palliative chemotherapy. Furthermore, nurses should help spouses with how they face bereavement. This result may help prevent anticipatory grief, which may lead to excessive stress and emotional distress on the family caregivers.
On June 19, 2019, euthanasia legislation in Victoria, Australia, came into effect. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) allows individuals whose life expectancy is 6 months or less to seek medical assistance to end their life. Patients with certain progressive neurodegenerative conditions, such as multiple sclerosis or motor neuron disease, can apply within 1 year of their expected death. People with conditions that might hinder their decision-making capacity, such as advanced Alzheimer's disease, are excluded, as are people who have a mental illness or disability, without a terminal illness. By Dec 31, 2019, 52 people had voluntarily ended their lives using the new legislation.
The heart failure (HF) guidelines recommend palliative care; however, it can often be difficult to determine the timing of palliative care referral. Because HF with fluid retention and low-cardiac output may trigger several unpleasant symptoms, continuous HF treatment is required to alleviate these symptoms in advanced HF. The patients with HF often suffer from total pain; therefore, the support from a multidisciplinary team plays a crucial role to improve quality of life of the patients and their families not only in the terminal phase but also from the early stage.
INTRODUCTION: Equitable delivery of advance care planning and symptom management among patients is crucial to improving cancer care. Existing interventions to improve the uptake of these services have predominantly occurred in clinic settings and are limited in their effectiveness, particularly among low-income and minority populations.
METHODS: The "Lay health worker Educates Engages and Activates Patients to Share (LEAPS)" intervention was developed to improve advance care planning and symptom management among low-income and minority hourly-wage workers with cancer, in two community settings. The intervention provides a lay health worker to all patients newly diagnosed with cancer and aims to educate and activate patients to engage in advance care planning and symptom management with their oncology providers. In this randomized clinical trial, we will evaluate the effect on quality of life (primary outcome) using the validated Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General Survey, at enrollment, 4- and 12- months post-enrollment. We will examine between-group differences on our secondary outcomes of patient activation, patient satisfaction with healthcare decision-making, and symptom burden (at enrollment, 4- and 12-months post-enrollment), and total healthcare use and healthcare costs (at 12-months post-enrollment).
DISCUSSION: Multilevel approaches are urgently needed to improve cancer care delivery among low-income and minority patients diagnosed with cancer in community settings. The current study describes the LEAPS intervention, the study design, and baseline characteristics of the community centers participating in the study.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated trends in end-of-life hospitalizations among nursing home residents (NHR) over 10 years and looked at differences between age groups and sexes as well as the length of terminal hospital stays.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study based on health insurance claims data of the AOK Bremen/Bremerhaven. All NHR aged 65 years or more who died between 2006 and 2015 were included.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We assessed the proportions of decedents who were in hospital on the day of death and during the last 3, 7, 14 and 30 days of life, stratified by two-year periods. Multiple logistic regressions were conducted to study changes over time, adjusting for covariates.
RESULTS: A total of 10,781 decedents were included (mean age 86.1 years, 72.1 % females). Overall, 29.2 % died in hospital, with a slight decrease from 30.3 % in 2006-2007 to 28.3 % in 2014-2015 (OR 0.86; 95 % CI 0.75-0.98). Of the 3150 terminal hospitalizations, 35.5 % lasted up to 3 days and the mean length of stay decreased from 9.0 (2006-2007) to 7.5 days (2014-2015). When looking at the last 7, 14 and 30 days of life, no changes over time were found. Male sex and younger age were associated with a higher chance of end-of-life hospitalization in almost all analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: End-of-life hospitalizations of NHR are common in Germany. There has been a small decrease during recent years in the proportion of in-hospital deaths, but not of hospitalizations during the last 7, 14 and 30 days of life. This might be explained by shorter durations of hospital stays.
Covid-19 is officially a pandemic. It is a novel infection with serious clinical manifestations, including death, and it has reached at least 124 countries and territories. Although the ultimate course and impact of Covid-19 are uncertain, it is not merely possible but likely that the disease will produce enough severe illness to overwhelm health care infrastructure. Emerging viral pandemics “can place extraordinary and sustained demands on public health and health systems and on providers of essential community services.” Such demands will create the need to ration medical equipment and interventions.
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The Covid-19 pandemic has led to severe shortages of many essential goods and services, from hand sanitizers and N-95 masks to ICU beds and ventilators. Although rationing is not unprecedented, never before has the American public been faced with the prospect of having to ration medical goods and services on this scale.
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Background: Bereavement support is a core part of palliative care. However, the evidence base is limited by a lack of consistency in the outcomes used to evaluate services and models of support, which makes it difficult to compare approaches. Core Outcome Sets (COS) represent the minimum that should be measured in research into specific conditions or services. The aim of this study was to use a stakeholders’ perspective to develop a COS for evaluating bereavement support for adults in adult palliative care settings.
Methods: A list of outcomes relevant to bereavement support was created following a systematic review of the quantitative and qualitative literature. At an expert workshop 21 stakeholders discussed their views on the most important outcomes and compared these to and critiqued the lists constructed from the review. These lists and discussions informed a two round international DELPHI survey (n = 240) designed to reach consensus on which outcomes/outcome dimensions should be included in the COS. To prioritise and validate the items emerging from the survey, participants at a subsequent consensus day ranked the relative importance of these items (n = 23). A final feedback exercise with these consensus day participants was conducted to confirm the selection of outcomes and dimensions.
Results: ‘Ability to cope with grief’ and ‘Quality of life and mental wellbeing’ were selected as two core outcomes. Twenty-one different dimensions to explore when assessing these outcomes were also identified. The coping related dimensions have been categorised as: Negative and overwhelming grief; Communication and connectedness; Understanding, accepting and finding meaning in grief; Finding balance between grief and life going forwards; Accessing appropriate support. Those relating to quality of life and wellbeing have been categorised as; Participation in work and/or regular activities; Relationships and social functioning; Positive mental wellbeing and Negative mental and emotional state.
Conclusion: This COS outlines a more consistent way forward for bereavement researchers and practitioners, whilst also orientating towards public health and resilience-based approaches to bereavement care. Further work is planned to identify and develop measures which are specific to this core outcome set, and which will facilitate the future comparability of bereavement services and interventions.
Background: Palliative care (PC) referral is recommended early in the course of advanced cancer. This study aims to describe, in an integrated onco-palliative care program (IOPC), patient’s profile when first referred to this program, timing of this referral and its impact on the trajectory of care at end-of-life.
Methods: The IOPC combined the weekly onco-palliative meeting (OPM) dedicated to patients with incurable cancer, and/or the clinical evaluation by the PC team. Oncologists can refer to the multidisciplinary board of the OPM the patients for whom goals and organization of care need to be discussed. We analyzed all patients first referred at OPM in 2011–2013. We defined the index of precocity (IP), as the ratio of the time from first referral to death by the time from diagnosis of incurability to death, ranging from 0 (late referral) to 1 (early referral).
Results: Of the 416 patients included, 57% presented with lung, urothelial cancers, or sarcoma. At first referral to IOPC, 76% were receiving antitumoral treatment, 63% were outpatients, 56% had a performance status =2 and 46% had a serum albumin level > 35 g/l. The median [1st-3rd quartile] IP was 0.39 [0.16–0.72], ranging between 0.53 [0.20–0.79] (earliest referral, i.e. close to diagnosis of incurability, for lung cancer) to 0.16 [0.07–0.56] (latest referral, i.e. close to death relatively to length of metastatic disease, for prostate cancer). Among 367 decedents, 42 (13%) received antitumoral treatment within 14 days before death, and 157 (43%) died in PC units.
Conclusions: The IOPC is an effective organization to enable early integration of PC and decrease aggressiveness of care near the end-of life. The IP is a useful tool to model the timing of referral to IOPC, while taking into account each cancer types and therapeutic advances.
Background: Brain metastases are associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. Integration of hospice at the end of life offers patients symptom relief and improves quality of life, particularly for elderly patients who are less able to tolerate brain-directed therapy. Population-level investigations of hospice utilization among elderly patients with brain metastases are limited.
Methods: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database for primary cancer sites that commonly metastasize to the brain, we identified 50,148 patients (age =66 years) diagnosed with brain metastases between 2005-2016. We calculated the incidence, timing, and predictors of hospice enrollment using descriptive techniques and multivariable logistic regression. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: The incidence of hospice enrollment was 71.4% (95%CI 71.0-71.9, p < 0.001), a rate which increased over the study period (p < 0.001). The odds of enrollment for black (OR 0.76, 95%CI 0.71-0.82, p < 0.001), Hispanic (OR 0.80, 95%CI 0.72-0.87, p < 0.001) and Asian patients (OR 0.52, 95%CI 0.48-0.57, p < 0.001) were substantially lower than white patients; males were less likely to be enrolled in hospice than females (OR 0.78, 95%CI 0.74-0.81, p < 0.001). Among patients enrolled in hospice, 32.6% (95%CI 32.1-33.1, p < 0.001) were enrolled less than 7 days prior to death, a rate which was stable over the study period.
Conclusion: Hospice is utilized for a majority of elderly patients with brain metastases although a considerable percentage of patients die without hospice services. Many patients enroll in hospice late and concerningly, statistically significant sociodemographic disparities exist in hospice utilization. Further investigations to facilitate targeted interventions addressing such disparities are warranted.
This study examines the impact of the level of religious observance on the attitudes toward end-of-life (EOL) decisions and euthanasia of Jews in Israel-where euthanasia is illegal-as compared to Jews living in the USA, in the states where euthanasia is legal. A self-reporting questionnaire on religiosity and personal beliefs and attitudes regarding EOL care and euthanasia was distributed, using a convenience sample of 271 participants from Israel and the USA. Findings show that significant differences were found in attitudes between Jews of different levels of religious observance with respect to patient autonomy, right to die with dignity, and dying in familiar and supportive surroundings. The USA and Israeli Jews have similar knowledge regarding EOL care and expressed similar attitudes and perceptions toward the issues of authority of medical staff and religious figures and patient's autonomy. Findings indicate that the level of religious observance has more potency in shaping their attitudes and perceptions of EOL decisions than the state law. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings with regard to multicultural health systems and providing practical recommendations.
BACKGROUND: The availability of interventions for bereaved parents have increased. However, most are practice based. To enhance the implementation of bereavement care for parents, an overview of interventions which are replicable and evidence-based are needed. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of well-defined bereavement interventions, focused on the parents, and delivered by regular health care professionals. Also, we explore the alignment between the interventions identified and the concepts contained in theories on grief in order to determine their theoretical evidence base.
METHOD: A systematic review was conducted using the methods PALETTE and PRISMA. The search was conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, and CINAHL. We included articles containing well-defined, replicable, paediatric bereavement interventions, focused on the parent, and performed by regular health care professionals. We excluded interventions on pathological grief, or interventions performed by healthcare professionals specialised in bereavement care. Quality appraisal was evaluated using the risk of bias, adapted risk of bias, or COREQ. In order to facilitate the evaluation of any theoretical foundation, a synthesis of ten theories about grief and loss was developed showing five key concepts: anticipatory grief, working models or plans, appraisal processes, coping, and continuing bonds.
RESULTS: Twenty-one articles were included, describing fifteen interventions. Five overarching components of intervention were identified covering the content of all interventions. These were: the acknowledgement of parenthood and the child's life; establishing keepsakes; follow-up contact; education and information, and; remembrance activities. The studies reported mainly on how to conduct, and experiences with, the interventions, but not on their effectiveness. Since most interventions lacked empirical evidence, they were evaluated against the key theoretical concepts which showed that all the components of intervention had a theoretical base.
CONCLUSIONS: In the absence of empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of most interventions, their alignment with theoretical components shows support for most interventions on a conceptual level. Parents should be presented with a range of interventions, covered by a variety of theoretical components, and aimed at supporting different needs. Bereavement interventions should focus more on the continuous process of the transition parents experience in readjusting to a new reality.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: This systematic review was registered in Prospero (registration number: CRD42019119241).
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study explores everyday life experience of relatives of people with ALS living at home with mechanical ventilation and formal caregivers.
BACKGROUND: ALS is a rapidly progressive disease affecting not only the patient but also close relatives. A burden is placed on relatives affecting their mental and physical health in settings where they provide care. Few studies have examined the everyday life challenges of close relatives with formal caregivers at home and home mechanical ventilation, which often prolongs survival.
DESIGN: We undertook a qualitative study with a phenomenological-hermeneutic approach inspired by Ricoeur. Eleven close relatives were interviewed and the three-level analysis method developed by Dreyer and Pedersen was conducted. The Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist was used.
RESULTS: Four themes were derived from the data during analysis: Vulnerable relatives fighting to keep track of everything, Formal caregivers - a distressing relief, A prison without personal space, and We are in this together until the end.
CONCLUSIONS: Close relatives of persons with ALS are burdened with everyday life challenges despite having formal caregivers at home, and they feel imprisoned. Despite these challenges and concerns about the end of life of their relative, they stay until the end.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: There is clearly a need to investigate interventions in clinical practice supporting close relatives to prepare them for what to expect during a prolonged disease course.
Children with cancer experience multiple symptoms at end of life (EOL) that impair their health-related quality of life. Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, this integrative literature review comprehensively summarized symptom experiences of children with cancer at EOL. The Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), PubMed, and Academic Premier were searched between January 2007 to September 2019 for articles published in English using the MeSH terms: symptom burden or distress AND children with cancer or pediatric cancer or cancer children or oncology and pediatrics AND EOL care or palliative care or death or dying or terminally ill. The inclusion criteria were the following: (a) study designs [randomized controlled trials, nonexperimental, secondary analysis (if aims were distinct from primary studies) and qualitative]; (b) participants <18 years old (died of cancer, had no realistic chance of cure, or had advanced cancer); and (c) focused on symptom experiences/burden at EOL. Exclusion criteria were nonresearch articles, systematic reviews, case studies, reports, and studies that focused on cancer survivors and/or those receiving curative therapies. Twenty-seven articles met inclusion criteria. The most prevalent symptoms-pain, fatigue, dyspnea, and loss of appetitewere associated with impairments in health-related quality of life. Children with brain tumors experienced higher symptom burden compared to those with hematologic/solid malignancies. Children who received cancer-directed therapies experienced disproportionate symptoms and were more likely to die in the intensive care unit compared with those who did not receive cancer-directed therapies. Most common location of death was home. This integrative review indicated that children with cancer were polysymptomatic at EOL. Strategies facilitating effective symptom management at EOL are needed.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: A patient-directed, online program (PREPARE for Your Care [PREPARE]; prepareforyourcare.org) has been shown to increase advance care planning (ACP) documentation. However, the mechanisms underlying PREPARE are unknown. Our objectives were to compare the efficacy of PREPARE plus an easy-to-read advance directive (AD) vs an AD alone to increase active patient participation in ACP discussions during clinic visits and to examine effects of active patient participation on ACP documentation.
DESIGN: Audio recordings of postintervention primary care visits from two randomized trials (2013-2016).
SETTING: Seven primary care clinics at a veterans affair and safety-net hospital in San Francisco, CA.
PARTICIPANTS: English- and Spanis-speaking adults, aged 55 years and older, with two or more chronic/serious conditions.
INTERVENTION: PREPARE plus an easy-to-read AD or an AD alone.
MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was the number of active patient participation utterances about ACP (eg, asking questions, stating preferences) measured by the validated Active Patient Participation Coding Scheme. We examined differences in utterances by study arm using mixed effects negative binomial models and utterances as a mediator of PREPARE's effect on documentation using adjusted logistic regression. Models were adjusted for health literacy, prior care planning, and clinician.
RESULTS: Among 393 participants, the mean (SD) age was 66 (8.1) years, 120 (30.5%) had limited health literacy, and 99 (25.2%) were Spanish speaking. PREPARE plus the AD resulted in 41% more active patient participation in ACP discussions compared with the AD alone (mean [SD] = 10.1 [16.8] vs 6.6 [13.4] utterances; incidence rate ratio = 1.41; 95% confidence interval = 1.00-1.98). For every additional utterance, participants had 15% higher odds of ACP documentation, and active patient participation accounted for 16% of PREPARE's effect on documentation.
CONCLUSIONS: The PREPARE program and easy-to-read AD empowered patients to actively participate in ACP discussions during clinical visits more than the AD alone. Increased activation was associated with increased ACP documentation. Therefore, PREPARE may mitigate barriers to ACP among English- and Spanish-speaking older adults.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov identifiers: “Improving Advance Care Planning by Preparing Diverse Seniors for Decision Making (PREPARE)” NCT01990235 and “Preparing Spanish-Speaking Older Adults for Advance Care Planning and Medical Decision Making (PREPARE)” NCT02072941.
Recent reports highlight an inconsistent provision of palliative and end-of-life (palliative) care across Australia, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas. Palliative care improves quality of life and the experience of dying, and all people should have equitable access to quality needs-based care as they approach and reach the end of their lives. A palliative approach to care is crucial in rural and remote Australia where there is a reliance for such care on generalist providers amid the challenges of a limited workforce, poorer access, and vast geography. This article describes the development and implementation of the Far West NSW Palliative and End-of-Life Model of Care, a systematic solution that could drive improvement in the provision of a quality palliative approach to care and support from any clinician in a timely manner, for patients, their families and carers anywhere.