Introduction: End-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients with acute respiratory failure are often treated by representatives from different medical specialties. This study investigates if the choice of treatment is influenced by the medical specialty.
Methods: An online cross-sectional survey among four Austrian medical societies was performed, accompanied by a case vignette of a geriatric end-stage COPD patient with acute respiratory failure. Respondents had to choose between noninvasive ventilation (NIV), a conservative treatment attempt (without NIV) and a palliative approach. Ethical considerations and their impact on decision making were also assessed.
Results: Responses of 162 physicians (67 from intensive care units (ICUs), 51 from pulmonology or internal departments and 44 from geriatric or palliative care) were included. The decision for NIV (instead of a conservative or palliative approach) was associated with working in an ICU (OR 14.9, 95% CI 1.87-118.8) and in a pulmonology or internal department (OR 9.4, 95% CI 1.14-78.42) compared with working in geriatric or palliative care (Model 1). The decision for palliative care was negatively associated with working in a pulmonology or internal department (OR 0.16, 95% CI 0.05-0.47) and (nonsignificantly) in an ICU (OR 0.41, 95% CI 0.15-1.12) (Model 2).
Conclusions: Department association was shown to be an independent predictor for treatment decisions in end-stage COPD with acute respiratory failure. Further research on these differences and influential factors is necessary.
CONTEXT: Although religion and spirituality are important to surrogate decision makers, little is known about the role of religion in decision making regarding life sustaining treatments.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the relationships between dimensions of religion and spirituality and medical treatment decisions made by surrogates.
METHODS: This prospective, observational study enrolled patient/surrogate dyads from three hospitals in one metropolitan area. Eligible patients were 65 years or older and admitted to the medicine or medical intensive care services. Baseline surveys between hospital days 2-10 assessed seven dimensions of religion and spirituality. Chart reviews of the electronic medical record and regional health information exchange 6 months after enrollment identified the use of life sustaining treatments and hospice for patients who died.
RESULTS: There were 291 patient/surrogate dyads. When adjusting for other religious dimensions, demographic, and illness factors, only surrogates' belief in miracles was significantly associated with a lower surrogate preference for DNR status (Adjusted odds Ratio (aOR) 0.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.19, 0.78). Among patients who died, higher surrogate intrinsic religiosity was associated with lower patient receipt of life-sustaining treatments within the last 30 days (aOR 0.66, CI 0.45, 0.97). Belief in miracles (aOR 0.30, CI 0.10, 0.96) and higher intrinsic religiosity (aOR 0.70, CI 0.53, 0.93) were associated with lower hospice utilization.
CONCLUSIONS: Few religious variables are associated with end of life preferences or treatment. Belief in miracles and intrinsic religiosity may affect treatment and should be identified and explored with surrogates by trained chaplains or other clinicians with appropriate training.
Context: Older and seriously ill Australians are often admitted to hospital in the last year of their life. The extent to which these individuals have considered important aspects of end-of-life (EOL) care, including location in which care is provided, goals of care, and involvement of others in decision making, is unclear.
Objectives: To determine, in a sample of older and seriously ill Australian inpatients, preferences regarding location in which they receive EOL care and reasons for their choice; who is involved in EOL decisions; disclosure of life expectancy; goals of care; and voluntary-assisted dying.
Methods: Cross-sectional face-to-face survey interviews conducted with 186 (80% consent) inpatients in a tertiary referral center aged 80 years and older; or aged 55 years and older with progressive chronic disease(s); or with physician-estimated life expectancy of less than 12 months.
Results: Home care was preferred (69%), given the perceived availability of family/friends, familiarity of environment, and likelihood of having wishes respected. If unable to make decisions themselves, inpatients wanted family to decide care alone (31%) or with a doctor (49%). Of those who had not discussed life expectancy, 23% wished to. Most (76%) preferred care that maintained quality of life and relieved symptoms. There was some agreement for being sedated at the EOL (63%) and able to access medication to end life (43%).
Conclusion: Most inpatients would prefer EOL care that maintains quality and relieves suffering compared with life extension and to receive this care at home. Family involvement in resolution and documentation of EOL decisions should be prioritized.
When should doctors seek protective custody to override a parent's refusal of potentially lifesaving treatment for their child? The answer to this question seemingly has different answers for different subspecialties of pediatrics. This paper specifically looks at different thresholds for physicians overriding parental refusals of life-sustaining treatment between neonatology, cardiology, and oncology. The threshold for mandating treatment of premature babies seems to be a survival rate of 25-50%. This is not the case when the treatment in question is open heart surgery for a child with congenital heart disease. Most cardiologists would not pursue legal action when parents refuse treatment, unless the anticipated survival rate after surgery is above 90%. In pediatric oncology, there are case reports of physicians requesting and obtaining protective custody for cancer treatment when the reported mortality rates are 40-50%. Such differences might be attributed to differences in care, a reasonable prioritization of quality of life over survival, or the role uncertainty plays on prognoses, especially for the extremely young. Nonetheless, other, non-medical factors may have a significant effect on inconsistencies in care across these pediatric subspecialties and require further examinations.
Objective: To explore end-of-life (EoL) decision-making and palliative care in hypoxic-ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) nationwide.
Methods: A cross-sectional national study on moderate-to-severe HIE in newborns =35 weeks’ gestational age in 2015, including all 57 level III units that offered hypothermia. Forty-one questions were included to explore how the prognosis is established, as well as timing of the decision-making process, and also how ongoing palliative care is offered.
Results: The main difficulties in EoL decisions lie in the scarce time to make an early, accurate prognosis. Only 20% shared the neurological prognosis with the parents within 72 hours of life, and in only a third of the centres is the nurse present when the prognostic information is given to the family. Almost 50% do not use protocols to order the EoL process. Practically, all centres (91%) reported taking into account the wishes of the parents. However, in 30% the team does not always reach consensus on how the withdrawal process. Specialised psychological support is available in 54% of the hospitals; in more than 50%, interviews are not arranged to examine the grieving process with parents.
Conclusions: There are four areas for improvement in the comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to the EoL decision in the patient with HIE: (1) the need for EoL and interdisciplinary palliative care protocols, (2) participation of nurses in the process and improvement in the nurse–physician communication, (3) psychological support for parents involved in the EoL decisions and (4) implementation of strategies to give support during the grieving process.
OBJECTIVE: Despite the clinical, ethical, and legal magnitude of end-of-life decision-making, the capacity of terminally ill patients to make the medical decisions they often face is largely unknown. In practice, clinicians are responsible for determining when their patients are no longer competent to make treatment decisions, yet the accuracy of these assessments is unclear. The purpose of this study was to explore decision-making capacity and its assessment in terminally ill cancer patients.
METHODS: Fifty-five patients with advanced cancer receiving inpatient palliative care and 50 healthy adults were administered the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool for Treatment (MacCAT-T) to evaluate decision-making capacity with regard to the four most commonly used legal standards: Choice, Understanding, Appreciation, and Reasoning. Participants made a hypothetical treatment decision about whether to accept artificial nutrition and hydration for treatment of cachexia. Participants' physicians independently rated their decision-making capacity.
RESULTS: Terminally ill participants were significantly more impaired than healthy adults on all MacCAT-T subscales. Most terminally ill participants were able to express a treatment choice (85.7%), but impairment was common on the Understanding (44.2%), Appreciation (49.0%), and Reasoning (85.4%) subscales. Agreement between physician-rated capacity and performance on the MacCAT-T subscales was poor.
CONCLUSIONS: The use of the MacCAT-T revealed high rates of decisional impairment in terminally ill participants. Participants' physicians infrequently detected impairment identified by the MacCAT-T. The findings from the present study reinforce the need for engagement in advance care planning for patients with advanced cancer.
When a patient lacks decision-making capacity, then according to standard clinical ethics practice in the United States, the health care team should seek guidance from a surrogate decision-maker, either previously selected by the patient or appointed by the courts. If there are no surrogates willing or able to exercise substituted judgment, then the team is to choose interventions that promote a patient's best interests. We argue that, even when there is input from a surrogate, patient preferences should be an additional source of guidance for decisions about patients who lack decision-making capacity. Our proposal builds on other efforts to help patients who lack decision-making capacity provide input into decisions about their care. For example, "supported," "assisted," or "guided" decision-making models reflect a commitment to humanistic patient engagement and create a more supportive process for patients, families, and health care teams. But often, they are supportive processes for guiding a patient toward a decision that the surrogate or team believes to be in the patient's medical best interests. Another approach holds that taking seriously the preferences of such a patient can help surrogates develop a better account of what the patient's treatment choices would have been if the patient had retained decision-making capacity; the surrogate then must try to integrate features of the patient's formerly rational self with the preferences of the patient's currently compromised self. Patients who lack decision-making capacity are well served by these efforts to solicit and use their preferences to promote best interests or to craft would-be autonomous patient images for use by surrogates. However, we go further: the moral reasons for valuing the preferences of patients without decision-making capacity are not reducible to either best-interests or (surrogate) autonomy considerations but can be grounded in the values of liberty and respect for persons. This has important consequences for treatment decisions involving these vulnerable patients.
OBJECTIVES: To elicit decisions that diverse older adults and surrogates perceive as serious, difficult, or important and explore what helped them make those decisions.
DESIGN: Focus groups (N=13) in which participants were asked to recall serious, difficult, or important medical decisions and what helped them make those decisions.
SETTING: Clinics, support groups and senior centers.
PARTICIPANTS: Diverse English- and Spanish-speaking older adults (age: mean 78, range 64-89) and surrogates (age: mean 57, range 33-76) (29% African American, 26% white, 26% Asian or Pacific Islander, 19% Hispanic) (N=69).
MEASUREMENTS: We used thematic analysis to analyze transcripts.
RESULTS: We identified 168 decisions. Older adults from all racial and ethnic groups frequently recalled cancer treatment decisions and decisions about chronic illness management. Surrogates described decisions about transitions in care and medical crises. Older adults valued self-sufficiency and maximizing survival and relied on personal experiences as often as medical advice. In all racial and ethnic groups, surrogates valued avoiding suffering for loved ones.
CONCLUSION: Diverse older adults and surrogates perceive life-threatening illness and day-to-day decisions about chronic disease to be serious, difficult, and important. The surrogates' goal of avoiding suffering of older adults may differ from older adults' priorities of self-sufficiency and maximizing survival. Clinicians should support older adults and surrogates in identifying important and difficult decisions and learn about the values and information sources they bring to decision-making. With this knowledge, clinicians can customize decision support and achieve person-centered care.
Objective: The Physician's Order for Scope of Treatment (POST) indicates patient preferences regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), levels of care, and fluids/nutrition provision decisions. When patients become incapacitated, 'surrogates' often collaborate with physicians on POST decisions. Surrogates may vary in their willingness to collaborate, which can be problematic when physicians expect shared decision-making. No research has yet investigated collaborative decision-making among surrogates on the POST. This study investigated how six psychological variables predicted participants' desires for collaboration when completing an online decision-making task.
Methods: Participants served as hypothetical surrogates and made decisions for another person on the three sections of the West Virginia POST. One-hundred-and-seventy-two adults were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk.
Results: The six variables contributed significantly to the prediction of collaborative willingness, F (6, 163) = 5.29, p < .001, R2= 0.19. Two variables uniquely contributed: confidence and consideration of future consequences. The model most strongly predicted collaborative willingness for the CPR decision.
Conclusion: This study provides a novel examination of under-researched areas: surrogate collaborative willingness and the POST. Differing risks associated with the three POST decisions may influence how surrogates value collaboration. Ways to enhance collaborative willingness when making POST decisions are discussed.
The goal of this Fast fact is to explain the role of a surrogate decision maker, how to guide patients in the selection of a surrogate, and how decision making proceeds if the patient has never selected a surrogate before becoming incapacitated.
AIM: This study explored the attitudes, experiences, and perceptions of Korean nurses toward advance directives (ADs) before the establishment of new Well-Dying Law.
METHODS: A sequential explanatory mixed method design was applied. We administered a constructed questionnaire on attitudes toward ADs and end-of-life issues and experience related to end-of-life decision-making. A Korean-translated version of the KAESAD [Knowledge-Attitudinal, Experimental Survey on ADs] was administered by 245 nurses. Semi-structured interviews (N = 16) were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded in a qualitative content analysis.
RESULTS: The quantitative results revealed the nurses' perspectives on ADs: that valuing patient's autonomy, authority, or rights is vital to the implementation of ADs and end-of-life decision-making. Also, nurses reported that patients should be knowledgeable and informed about ADs. These responses allowed us to generate an interview, which revealed four themes in adopting the Well-Dying Law, including ADs. Themes with 'benefits' and 'roles of health care providers' mainly supported the quantitative results. Themes with 'ethical issues,' such as disagreement between patients and family members on ADs, and 'preparation,' regarding adopting the new law, should be importantly considered when implementing ADs in clinical settings.
CONCLUSIONS: Our study highlights that nurses need to develop sufficient knowledge on the laws, and communication skills to help patients be knowledgeable and make their own decisions regarding ADs. To successfully adopt the Well-Dying Law, our findings suggest that a nationwide public campaign and a continuing education program for nurses to manage ethical issues regarding ADs are required.
Supporting and managing end of life in emergency departments (EDs) is often difficult and is becoming increasingly commonplace. Patients who present at the end of life are often triaged as low priority as their signs and symptoms are not considered life-threatening and they are often exposed to unnecessary and inappropriate tests and investigations. This results in increased stress and distress for patients and their family and carers in an environment that is not suited to this type of care. There are few specified palliative care pathways that provide the level of care required by these patients. This article describes the Time is Precious (TiP) project, the development of a palliative care decision-making framework to support and address the needs of patients who present to an ED at end of life, in a timely and appropriate manner. It also reports findings of an evaluation of TiP that show patients are identified more quickly and cared for more appropriately as nursing and medical care can be tailored to meet their needs.
Context: Providing patient care at the end of a patient's life is a humbling and sacred experience for both patient and provider. Without a truthful and meaningful conversation about end-of-life care preferences, the care that is delivered may not be the care that the patient prefers.
bjectives: Determine if there is a relationship between level of training, confidence, and presence of decisional conflict in making an accurate prognosis for 2 standardized cases. Additionally, we evaluated the correctness of the prognosis as measured against survival outcomes for patients with similar diagnoses.
Methods: Decisional conflict was measured with the SURE tool, a validated 4-item tool that has been used in assessing for the presence of decisional conflict.
Results: Following analysis of data, it was found that providers with no decisional conflict were much more likely to be attendings with more than 5 years' experience. Providers were more conflicted overall when confronted with a case with a more grave prognosis. It was determined that providers with a lower level of training were more likely to have decisional conflict.
Conclusions: Provider confidence increases and decisional conflict decreases as one increases their level of training. However, the degree in which the provider is correct in their prognosis does not change as one increases their level of training. These findings have broad implications on patients, providers, and the health-care system.
OBJECTIVES: Physicians' decision-making in end-of-life (EOL) care includes many medical, ethical and juridical aspects. We studied the changes of these decisions over time and factors influencing them.
METHODS: A postal survey including two hypothetical patient scenarios was sent to 1258 Finnish physicians in 2015 and to 1182 in 1999. The attitudes, values and background factors of the physicians were also enquired.
RESULTS: The response rate was 56%. The physicians' decisions to choose palliative approaches over active or intensive care increased from 1999 to 2015 when a terminally ill prostate cancer patient had probable iatrogenic gastrointestinal bleeding (53% vs 59%, p=0.014) and waited to meet his son (46% vs 60%, p<0.001) or a minister (53% vs 71%, p<0.001). Training in EOL care independently increased palliative approaches. Patient's benefit (96% vs 99%, p=0.001), ethical values (83% vs 93%, p<0.001) and patient's (68% vs 86%, p<0.001) or physician's (44% vs 63%, p<0.001) legal protection were considered more influential to the decisions in 2015, while the family's benefit was regarded as less influential to the decisions than it was in 1999 (37% vs 25%, p<0.001). Physicians were more willing to give a hospice voucher for an advanced breast cancer patient in 2015 (34% vs 58%, p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings may reflect the transition to a stronger emphasis on patient-centred care and a stronger tendency to avoid futile therapies that have only short-term goals. The results highlight that education in all aspects of EOL care should be incorporated into the post-graduate training of medical specialties that take care of dying patients.
Objective: Home-based palliative care has been suggested to be a beneficial model of care. Whether it is a desirable option of the family and patients is arguable. This study, therefore, aimed to explore the experience of the family the palliative cancer patients in their decision-making process of taking care of the patients at home.
Methods: This study was a qualitative study using descriptive phenomenology approach. Data were obtained through in-depth interviews with 10 family member of the palliative cancer patients.
Results: three themes emerged in this study: (1) family's limited knowledge and skill to take care of the palliative cancer patients at home, (2) family wish the patients to stay being treated in the hospitals, (3) family depends on the hospital for palliative cancer patients.
Conclusions: Nurses should evaluate family preference, readiness, and capabilities in taking care of palliative cancer patients at home. Nurses should collaborate with the health care providers in assisting the family in their decision making to keep the palliative care patients at the hospital or take them home.
Background: Religion and/or spirituality are important values for many parents of critically ill children; however, how religion and/or spirituality may influence which treatments parents accept or decline for their child, or how they respond to significant events during their child's illness treatment, remains unclear.
Objective: to summarize the literature related to the influence of parents' religiosity or spirituality on decision making for their critically ill child.
Design: Integrative review, using the Whittemore and Knafl approach.
Setting/Subjects: Data were collected from studies identified through PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL plus), Embase, Scopus, and PsychInfo. Databases were searched to identify literature published between 1996 and 2016.
Results: Twenty-four articles of variable methodological quality met inclusion criteria. Analysis generated three themes: parents' religiosity or spirituality as (1) guidance during decision making, (2) comfort and support during the decision-making process, and (3) a source of meaning, purpose, and connectedness in the experience of decision making.
Conclusion: This review suggests that parents' religiosity and/or spirituality is an important and primarily positive influence on their decision making for a critically ill child.
BACKGROUND: The concept of advance care planning is largely derived from Western countries. However, the decision-making process and drivers for choosing palliative care in non-Western cultures have received little attention.
AIM: To explore the decision-making processes and drivers of receiving palliative care in advance care planning discussions from perspectives of advanced cancer patients, families and healthcare professionals in northern Taiwan.
METHOD: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with advanced cancer patients, their families and healthcare professionals independently from inpatient oncology and hospice units. Thematic analysis with analytical rigour enhanced by dual coding and exploration of divergent views.
RESULTS: Forty-five participants were interviewed (n = 15 from each group). Three main decision-making trajectories were identified: (1) 'choose palliative care' was associated with patients' desire to reduce physical suffering from treatments, avoid being a burden to families and society, reduce futile treatments and donate organs to help others; (2) 'decline palliative care' was associated with patients weighing up perceived benefits to others as more important than benefits for themselves; and (3) 'no opportunity to choose palliative care' was associated with lack of opportunities to discuss potential benefits of palliative care, lack of staff skill in end-of-life communication, and cultural factors, notably filial piety.
CONCLUSION: Choice for palliative care among advanced cancer patients in Taiwan is influenced by three decision-making trajectories. Opinions from families are highly influential, and patients often lack information on palliative care options. Strategies to facilitate decision-making require staff confidence in end-of-life discussions, working with the patients and their family while respecting the influence of filial piety.
OBJECTIVES: Research indicates that the increasing population of over 25 million people in the United States who have limited English proficiency experience differences in decision-making and subsequent care at end of life in the ICU when compared with the general population. The objective of this study was to assess the perceptions of healthcare team members about the factors that influence discussions and decision-making about end of life for patients and family members with limited English proficiency in the ICU.
DESIGN: Qualitative study using semistructured interviews with ICU physicians, nurses, and interpreters.
SETTING: Three ICUs at Mayo Clinic Rochester.
SUBJECTS: Sixteen ICU physicians, 12 ICU nurses, and 12 interpreters.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: We conducted 40 semistructured interviews. We identified six key differences in end-of-life decision-making for patients with limited English proficiency compared with patients without limited English proficiency: 1) clinician communication is modified and less frequent; 2) clinician ability to assess patient and family understanding is impaired; 3) relationship building is impaired; 4) patient and family understanding of decision-making concepts (e.g., palliative care) is impaired; 5) treatment limitations are often perceived to be unacceptable due to faith-based and cultural beliefs; and 6) patient and family decision-making styles are different. Facilitators of high-quality decision-making in patients with limited English proficiency included: 1) premeeting between clinician and interpreter; 2) interpretation that communicates empathy and caring; 3) bidirectional communication of cultural perspectives; 4) interpretation that improves messaging including appropriate word choice; and 5) clinician cultural humility.
CONCLUSIONS: End-of-life decision-making is significantly different for ICU patients with limited English proficiency. Participants identified several barriers and facilitators to high-quality end-of-life decision-making for ICU patients and families with limited English proficiency. Awareness of these factors can facilitate interventions to improve high-quality, compassionate, and culturally sensitive decision-making for patients and families with limited English proficiency.
Background: Prior work in adult oncology suggests minority patients are less involved in decision making than preferred. However, few studies have explored decision-making experiences of minority parents in pediatric oncology.
Objective: To determine whether parental decision-making preferences and experiences vary by race/ethnicity.
Design: Questionnaire-based cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Three hundred sixty five parents of children with cancer and their oncologists at two academic centers.
Measurements: Parents reported on preferred and actual decision-making roles. Associations between race/ethnicity and decision-making outcomes determined by chi-squared test.
Results: Most parents preferred shared decision making (235/368, 64%), whereas 23% (84/368) preferred parent-led decision making and 13% (49/368) preferred oncologist-led decision making. Parental decision-making preferences did not differ by race/ethnicity (p = 0.38, chi-squared test). However, the actual role parents played in decision making differed by parental race/ethnicity, with 25% (71/290) of white parents reporting parent-led decision making, versus 37% (9/24) of black parents, 48% (13/27) of Hispanic parents, and 56% (15/27) of Asian/other parents (p = 0.005, chi-squared test). Oncologists accurately predicted parental preferences for decision making 49% of the time (n = 165/338), but accuracy also differed by race and ethnicity. Oncologists accurately predicted parental preferences for 53% of white parents (140/266), 23% of black parents (5/22), 37% of Hispanic parents (10/27), and 43% of Asian/other race parents (10/23) (p = 0.026, chi-squared test).
Conclusions: Minority parents held more active roles than white parents, and oncologists had more difficulty predicting decisional preferences for minority parents relative to white parents. These findings suggest that minority parents are at risk of inferior decision-making experiences.
Aim: Patients with cancer have varied preferences for involvement in decision-making. We sought older adults' preferred and perceived roles in decision-making about palliative chemotherapy; priorities; and information received and desired.
Methods: Patients =65y who had made a decision about palliative chemotherapy with an oncologist completed a written questionnaire. Preferred and perceived decision-making roles were assessed by the Control Preferences Scale. Wilcoxon rank-sum tests evaluated associations with preferred role. Factors important in decision-making were rated and ranked, and receipt of, and desire for information was described.
Results: Characteristics of the 179 respondents: median age 74y, male (64%), having chemotherapy (83%), vulnerable (Vulnerable Elders Survey-13 score = 3) (52%). Preferred decision-making roles (n = 173) were active in 39%, collaborative in 27%, and passive in 35%. Perceived decision-making roles (n = 172) were active in 42%, collaborative in 22%, and passive in 36% and matched the preferred role for 63% of patients. Associated with preference for an active role: being single/widowed (p = .004, OR = 1.49), having declined chemotherapy (p = .02, OR = 2.00). Ranked most important (n = 159) were “doing everything possible” (30%), “my doctor's recommendation” (26%), “my quality of life” (20%), and “living longer” (15%). A minority expected chemotherapy to cure their cancer (14%). Most had discussed expectations of cure (70%), side effects (88%) and benefits (82%) of chemotherapy. Fewer had received quantitative prognostic information (49%) than desired this information (67%).
Conclusion: Older adults exhibited a range of preferences for involvement in decision-making about palliative chemotherapy. Oncologists should seek patients' decision-making preferences, priorities, and information needs when discussing palliative chemotherapy.