BACKGROUND: To make end-of-life (EOL) decisions is a complex and challenging task for intensive care physicians and a substantial variability in this process has been previously reported. However, a deeper understanding of intensivists' experiences and attitudes regarding the decision-making process is still, to a large extent, lacking. The primary aim of this study was to address Swedish intensivists' experiences, beliefs and attitudes regarding decision-making pertaining to EOL decisions. Second, we aimed to identify underlying factors that may contribute to variability in the decision-making process.
METHOD: This is a descriptive, qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews with nineteen intensivists from five different Swedish hospitals, with different ICU levels, were performed from February 1st to May 31st 2017.
RESULTS: Intensivists strive to make end-of-life decisions that are well grounded, based on sufficient information. Consensus with the patient, family, and other physicians is important. Concurrently, decisions that are made with scarce information or uncertain medical prognosis, decisions made during on-call hours and without support from senior consultants cause concern for many intensivists. Underlying factors that contribute to the variability in decision making are lack of continuity among senior intensivists, lack of needed support during on-call hours and disagreements with physicians from other specialties. There is also an individual variability primarily depending on the intensivist's personality.
CONCLUSION: Swedish intensivists' wish to make end-of-life decisions based on sufficient information, medically certain prognosis and consensus with the patient, family, staff and other physicians. Swedish intensivists' experience a variability in end-of-life decisions, which is generally accepted and not questioned.
Children's experiences of information and family communication when a parent has a life-threatening illness have been sparsely studied, though such information is important for the child's wellbeing. The aim of this study was to explore children's reports of illness-related information and family communication when living with a parent with a life-threatening illness. Forty-eight children, aged 7 to 19 years, were recruited from four specialized palliative home care units in Stockholm, Sweden. All but one child reported that someone had told them about the parent's life-threatening illness; however, two thirds wanted more information. A quarter of the teenagers reported that they had questions about the illness that they did not dare to ask. Half of the children, aged 8 to 12, reported that they felt partially or completely unable to talk about how they felt or show their feelings to someone in the family. Interventions are needed that promote greater family communication and family-professional communication.
Background: The Patient Dignity Inventory (PDI) is based on an empirically-driven dignity model that has been developed and used for clinically assessing the various sources of dignity-related distress. In a recent review, it received the highest score as a useful instrument in both practice and research in palliative care. The PDI has been adapted to and validated for use in various countries, but not yet Sweden.
Aims: To translate the PDI into Swedish, including cultural adaptation for clinical use.
Methods: A multi-step process of translation, negotiated consensus, expert group discussion (n=7: four invited experts and three researchers) and cognitive interviewing (n=7: persons with palliative care needs).
Findings: Discussion, by the expert reviewers, of both linguistic and cultural issues regarding the content and readability of the translated Swedish version resulted in revisions of items and response alternatives, focusing mainly on semantic, conceptual, and experiential equivalence. A pilot version for cognitive interviews was produced. The analysis of data showed that most of the items were judged to be relevant by the persons with palliative care needs.
Conclusion: The process of translation and adaptation added clarity and consistency. The Swedish version of the PDI can be used in assessing dignity-related distress. The next step will be to test this Swedish version for psychometric properties in a larger group of patients with palliative care needs before use in research.
BACKGROUND: Persons with dementia may have severe physical and psychological symptoms at the end of life. A therapy dog used in their care can provide comfort and relieve thier anxiety. The dog handler guides the dog during the interaction with the patient.
AIM: To describe the impact of therapy dogs on people with dementia in the final stages of life from the perspective of the dog handler.
METHODS: Interviews were conducted and analysed using qualitative content analysis.
FINDINGS: The dog provides comfort and relief through its presence and by responding to the physical and emotional expressions of the dying person.
CONCLUSIONS: Interactions with dogs were found to have a positive impact on persons with dementia and eased the symptoms associated with end of life according to the dog handlers.
Background: To avoid aggressive treatments at the end-of-life and to provide palliative care (PC), physicians need to terminate futile anti-cancer treatments and define the palliative goal of the treatment in time. This single center study assesses the practices used to make the decision that leads to treatment with a palliative goal, i.e., the PC decision and its effect on anti-cancer treatments at the end of life.
Material and methods: Patients with a cancer diagnosis treated in tertiary hospital during 1st January 2013 – 31st December 2014 and deceased by the end of 2014 were identified in the hospital database (N = 2737). Of these patients, 992 were randomly selected for this study. The PC decision was screened from patient records, i.e., termination of cancer-specific treatments and a focus on symptom-centered PC.
Results: The PC decision was defined in 82% of the patients during the last year of life (49% >30 days and 33% =30 days before death, 18% with no decision). The median time from the decision to death was 46 days. Systemic cancer therapy was given during the last month of life in 1%, 36% and 38% (p < .001) and radiotherapy 22%, 40% and 31% (p = .03) cases, respectively; referral to a PC unit was made in 62%, 22% and 11%, respectively (p < .001). In logistic regression analyses younger age, shorter duration of the disease trajectory and type of cancer (e.g., breast cancer) were associated with a lack or late timing of the PC decision.
Conclusion: The decision to initiate a palliative goal for the treatment was frequently made for cancer patients but occurred late for every third patient. Younger age and certain cancer types were associated with late PC decisions, thus leading to anti-cancer treatments continuing until close to the death with low access to a PC unit.
In Sweden, patients in early palliative stages of illness are cared for in primary care and often offered home care. Many are older and at risk for malnutrition, but little is known about their symptom burden and nutritional problems. This cross-sectional study divided older patients in home care into those with and without risk for malnutrition and compared symptom burden in the 2 groups. Participants were patients in Stockholm County (n = 121) in early palliative stages of disease cared for at home by primary care professionals from 10 health-care centers. The Mini Nutritional Assessment (MNA) was used to identify risk for malnutrition. Symptoms and/or nutritional status in patients with and without risk were assessed with the Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy (FAACT), Patient-Generated Subjective Global Assessment Short Form (PG-SGA), and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS). Forty-two percent of the patients were at risk for malnutrition (MNA). Appetite (P = .012), tiredness (P = .003), and anxiety (P = .008) were worse in these patients than in those without risk (ESAS; significance level, P = .015). Patients at risk were also more concerned about how thin they looked (P = .006), agreed more strongly that their family or friends were pressuring them to eat (P = .000; FAACT; significance level, P = .029), had a higher symptom burden (P = .005), had lower physical activity (P = .000), and more lost weight over time (P = .032; PG-SGA; significance level, P = .040). This study adds a more detailed picture of the symptom burden in older patients at risk for malnutrition. Such information is needed to identify risk for malnutrition earlier and improve patients’ health.
BACKGROUND: Undergraduate nursing students encounter patients at the end of life during their clinical training. They need to confront dying and death under supportive circumstances in order to be prepared for similar situations in their future career.
AIM: To explore undergraduate nursing students' descriptions of caring situations with patients at the end of life during supervised clinical training.
METHODS: A qualitative study using the critical incident technique was chosen. A total of 85 students wrote a short text about their experiences of caring for patients at the end of life during their clinical training. These critical incident reports were then analysed using deductive and inductive content analysis.
FINDINGS: The theme 'students' transformational learning towards becoming a professional nurse during clinical training' summarises how students relate to patients and relatives, interpret the transition from life to death, feel when caring for a dead body and learn end-of-life caring actions from their supervisors.
IMPLICATIONS: As a preparation for their future profession, students undergoing clinical training need to confront death and dying while supported by trained supervisors and must learn how to communicate about end-of-life issues and cope with emotional stress and grief.
Aim: Aim was to describe how Registered Nurses (RNs) and assistant nurses (ANs) working in residential care homes and home care perceived quality end-of-life care after implementation of the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP) in terms of subjective importance of care aspects and actual care given.
Design: Descriptive cross-sectional.
Methods: Registered Nurses (N = 22; 100% response rate) and ANs (N = 120; 59% response rate) working in a Swedish municipality. Data collection with a study-specific questionnaire (50 items) about perceived reality (PR) and subjective importance (SI). Non-parametric statistics.
Results: Implementation of the LCP ensured systematic assessment and alleviation of patients' symptoms and needs. The ANs, more than the RNs, perceived that the patients received the best possible nursing and medical care (p = .01). Both groups considered that communication with patients and families as well as the information exchange between the team members was facilitated. Areas for improvement were identified about psychological and existential support and patients and families' participation in care.
BACKGROUND: Despite complex illness trajectories and a high symptom burden, palliative care has been sub-optimal for patients with end-stage kidney disease and hemodialysis treatment who have a high rate of hospitalization and intensive care towards end of life. There is a growing awareness that further development of palliative care is required to meet the needs of these patients and their family members. In this process, it is important to explore healthcare professionals' views on provision of care. The aim of this study was therefore to describe nurses' and physicians' perspectives on end-of-life and palliative care of patients treated with maintenance hemodialysis.
METHODS: Four focus group interviews were conducted with renal nurses (17) and physicians (5) in Sweden. Qualitative content analysis was used to analyze data.
RESULTS: Participants were committed to giving the best possible care to their patients, but there were challenges and barriers to providing quality palliative care in nephrology settings. Professionals described palliative care as end-of-life care associated with hemodialysis withdrawal or palliative dialysis, but also identified care needs and possibilities that are in line with an earlier integrated palliative approach. This was perceived as complex from an organizational point of view. Participants identified challenges related to coordination of care and different perspectives on care responsibilities that impacted symptom management and patients' quality of life. Communication issues relating to the provision of palliative care were revealed where the hemodialysis setting was regarded as an impediment, and personal and professional experiences, beliefs and knowledge were considered of major importance.
CONCLUSIONS: Nurses and physicians identified a need for the improvement of both late and earlier palliative care approaches. The results highlighted a requirement for and possibilities of training, counselling and support of health care professionals in the dialysis context. Further, multi-professional palliative care collaborations should be developed to improve the coordination and organization of end-of-life and palliative care of patients and their family members. A climate allowing conversations about advance care planning throughout the illness trajectory may facilitate the gradual integration of palliative care alongside life-prolonging treatment for improved support of patients and families.
Background: Many nursing students are not prepared to encounter death and care for patients who are at the end of life as newly educated nurses. The Frommelt Attitude Toward Care of Dying Scale (FATCOD) has been used to assess nursing students' attitudes during their education and changes have been noted.
Objective: To examine nursing students' attitudes towards care of dying patients before and after a course in palliative care.
Design: A descriptive study with a pre and post design.
Settings & participants: Nursing students (n = 73) enrolled in a mandatory palliative course in the nursing programme at a Swedish university.
Methods: Data were collected before and after a palliative care course using FATCOD and qualitative open-ended questions. Data from FATCOD were analysed using descriptive and analytical statistics. The open-ended questions were analysed with qualitative content analysis.
Results: The students' mean scores showed a statistically significant change toward a more positive attitude toward care of dying. Students with the lowest pre-course scores showed the highest mean change. The qualitative analysis showed that the students had gained additional knowledge, deepened understanding, and increased feelings of security through the course.
Conclusions: A course in palliative care could help to change nursing students' attitudes towards care of patients who are dying and their relatives, in a positive direction. A course in palliative care is suggested to be mandatory in nursing education, and in addition to theoretical lectures include learning activities such as reflection in small groups, simulation training and taking care of the dead body.
BACKGROUND: Timely identification of patients with palliative care needs is a prerequisite for being able to carry out effective and equal palliative care. The Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT) identifies patients likely to benefit from a palliative approach.
AIM: The main objective was to describe the translation, cross-cultural adaptation and content validation process of the SPICT-SE. In this process, the prefinal SPICT-SE was tested in focus group interviews to explore how the tool was perceived and interpreted by healthcare professionals in a Swedish healthcare context.
METHODS: In this qualitative descriptive study, the translation, cross-cultural adaptation and content validation process of the SPICT-SE was based on a recommended method for cross-cultural adaptation of self-report measures. The process included two independent forward translations, a synthesis, and one independent back-translation. An expert committee consolidated all the versions and developed the prefinal version of the SPICT-SE. The prefinal version of the SPICT-SE was tested in four focus group interviews with physicians and nurses engaged in inpatient or outpatient care in south-west Sweden. A thematic analysis of the transcribed interviews was performed. The SPICT-SE was then revised to the final version.
RESULTS: In the thematic analysis, four themes were constructed that together described how the SPICT-SE was perceived and interpreted by healthcare professionals: The mindset is familiar and relevant; the tool needs to be adjusted in order to be clearer; the purpose and consequences of the tool are ambiguous; and the tool supports a palliative approach.
CONCLUSION: The SPICT-SE has now been successfully translated, culturally adapted and content validated in a Swedish healthcare context.
Background: A decision to refrain from cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the case of cardiac arrest is recommended in terminally ill patients to avoid unnecessary suffering at time of death. The aim of this study was to describe the frequency of decisions and documentation of “do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation” (DNACPR) in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. Unit A had written guidelines about how to document CPR-decisions in the medical records, including a requirement for a decision to be taken (CPR: yes/no) while Unit B had no such requirement.
Method: The medical records for all patients in palliative phase of their disease at the two Units were reviewed. Data was collected on documentation of decisions about CPR (yes/no), DNACPR-decisions and documentation regarding whether the patient or next-of-kin had been informed about the DNACPR-decision.
Results: In the two Units, 316 and 219 patients in palliative phase were identified. In Unit A 100% of the patients had a CPR-decision (yes/no) compared to 79% in Unit B (p < 0.001). There was no statistically significant difference in DNACPR-decisions between the two Units, 43 and 37%. Documentation about informing the patient regarding the decision was significantly higher in Unit A, 53% compared to 14% at Unit B (p < 0.001). Documentation about informing the next-of-kin was also significantly higher at Unit A; 42% compared to 6% at Unit B (p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Less than 50% of patients in palliative phase had a decision of DNACPR in two Medical Home Care Units in Stockholm. The presence of written guidelines and a requirement for a CPR-decision did not increase the frequency of DNACPR-decisions but was associated with a higher frequency of documentation of decisions and of information given to both the patients and the next-of-kin.
BACKGROUND: Authors of expert guidelines and consensus statements recommend that decisions at the end-of-life (EOL) be discussed before and after implantation of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and include promotion of shared decision-making. The purpose of this study was to describe experiences, attitudes, and knowledge about the ICD at EOL in ICD recipients and to compare experiences, attitudes, and knowledge in ICD recipients with and without heart failure (HF). We further sought to determine factors associated with having discussions about EOL.
METHODS AND RESULTS: Using a national registry in Sweden of all ICD recipients (n=5355) in 2012, an EOL questionnaire, along with other ICD-related measures, was completed by 2403 ICD recipients. Of the participants, 1275 (n=53%) had HF. Their responses in the knowledge, experience, and attitude domains were almost identical to those without HF. Forty percent of patients with and without HF did not want to discuss their illness trajectory or deactivation of their ICD ever. In logistic regression analyses, we found that having had an ICD shock (OR, 2.05; CI, 1.64-2.56), having high levels of anxiety (OR, 1.41; CI, 1.04-1.92), and having high levels of ICD concerns (OR, 1.53; CI, 1.22-1.92) were the only significant predictors of having discussions with providers about EOL scenarios (P<0.001 for full model).
CONCLUSIONS: HF was not a predictor of having an EOL conversation. Further research is needed to determine if attitudes related to not wanting to discuss EOL interfere with good quality of life and of death, or if shared decision-making should be encouraged in these individuals.
BACKGROUND: Post-intensive care syndrome-family is a common problem in relatives of patients who die in an intensive care unit. Family-centred end-of-life care with support for the family during and after the death is supposed to prevent suffering and avoid illness.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to investigate family-centred end-of-life care and bereavement follow-up services offered to family members of patients who die in Swedish intensive care units.
DESIGN, METHODS: A cross-sectional study using a 16-question survey based on family-centred end-of-life care was sent to all 81 adult intensive care units. Data were analysed by descriptive statistics and chi-square. Respondents were able to add individual comments to the questionnaire.
RESULTS: Although the majority (76.7%) offered some kind of follow up, this service was not always offered. Modes for invitation, timing, and contents in the follow up varied between the units. The staff tried to individualize the follow-up service according to the family's needs. Nurses and social workers were the only professionals who provided follow-up conversations on their own. Most of the intensive care units (97.3%) kept diaries that were handed over to the family when they left the unit after the patient's death or at a follow-up visit. Only 8.8% reported that they always offer the family the opportunity to be present during resuscitation. Most respondents reported that patients (60.6%) died in a private room.
CONCLUSIONS: Family-centred end-of-life care varied among the intensive care units, and some families were not offered any follow up at all. Timing, invitation, and elements in the follow up differ between the units. Diaries were commonly kept and usually given to the family. Few units offered the family to be present during resuscitation.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: There is a need for national guidelines to ensure that all bereaved families receive equal and individual family-centred end-of-life care.
In recent years, the common and mundane dying has begun to take place in the public space of the Internet. Among the blogs about food, fashion, travel, and other joyful aspects of life, blogs about severe disease and dying have appeared. The aim of this article is to describe some characteristic features of a sample of cancer blogs and to discuss them in the light of Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of the rationalization of death in modernity and theories about networked media, especially the theories about “affective labor” and “ambient intimacy” by McCosker, Darcy, and Pfister. It will then be argued that an affective communication is performed in and through these cancer blogs, where not only language but also the deficiencies of language—and what is called shared ineffability—might be valuable and meaningful (although not unproblematic) as part of a late modern approach to death, and in the practicing of the art of dying.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate factors predictive for 'death at home' for patients admitted to an advanced medical home care unit in Stockholm, Sweden, with a focus on possible gender differences. In addition, place of death in relation to the patient's wishes was studied.
METHOD: A retrospective review of medical records of all 456 deceased patients, 233 men and 223 women, admitted to the unit during 2017 was performed. Data on age, diagnosis, living conditions, Swedish language skills, desired place of death (if stated) and place of death were retrieved from the patients' charts.
RESULTS: A total of 114 of 456 patients died at home (25%). The probability of 'death at home' was independent of gender, age, diagnosis, living conditions and Swedish language skills. In a binary logistic regression model, the only factor significantly associated with death at home was 'the wish to die at home' (p<0.001). In the study population, 154 patients (34%) had expressed a preferred place of death, 116 (75%) wanted to die at home and 38 (25%) wanted to die in hospice. Of all patients who expressed a preferred place of death, 80% (n=123) had their wishes fulfilled and there were no differences between the sexes.
CONCLUSION: This study indicates equal opportunities regarding the possibility to die at home for patients admitted to advanced medical home care. It emphasises the importance of asking patients where they want to be at the end of life, as it was the foremost prognostic factor for place of death.
Background: Specialized home-based palliative care (HPC) services aim at reducing the number of visits to emergency departments (EDs) and hospitalizations at end of life. In addition, it offers patients the possibility to die at home.
Objective: To investigate whether the last years' expansion of palliative care in Stockholm County, Sweden, reduced the health care resource use and/or increased the number of patients who died at home.
Design: This is a population-based study of all registered 2780 patients referred to HPC in 2015 in the Stockholm region. The majority of the patients (2087) had cancer, but 693 patients had chronic medical illness, most often cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.
Results: HPC reduced visits to the ED and hospital admissions by 51% and 41%, respectively. The number of hospital admissions to the departments of oncology, medicine, and surgery was reduced, whereas admissions to palliative care units increased. For the 1773 patients alive after 90 days with HPC, the number of days spent in hospital reduced from 19,628 before HPC to 13,743 (30%) days with HPC. The most common place of death was at a specialized palliative care unit (48%), whereas 36% died at home.
Conclusions: HPC reduced emergency health care resource use for the majority of patients, despite patients having progressing disease. To improve the quality of end-of-life care, we need to make early integration of palliative care available for a larger number of patients. In addition, we have to improve care pathways, especially for patients with gastrointestinal and lung cancer, who continued to be frequently admitted to hospital.
This chapter looks at stillbirth registration and levels of stillbirth mortality in 19th century Iceland from a Nordic comparative perspective....
In the first part I compare regulations on stillbirth registation and collection on statistics in Iceland with Danemark. The second part discusses the development of stillbirth mortality in both countries. This section also includes a comparison with Sweden.
BACKGROUND: There is evidence indicating that family sense of coherence predicts quality of family life and promotes family well-being. In families living with the palliative phase of cancer, low hope, anxiety and symptoms of depression are common in both persons with cancer and their family members.
AIM: To determine whether family sense of coherence was associated with hope, anxiety and symptoms of depression, respectively, in persons with cancer in the palliative phase and their family members.
DESIGN: An observational, cross-sectional, multicentre study was conducted. Nested linear regression analyses were performed in two blocks to determine whether family sense of coherence was associated with hope, anxiety and symptoms of depression.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Persons with cancer (n = 179) and their family members (n = 165) were recruited from two oncology clinics and two palliative centres in three regions in Sweden.
RESULTS: The main findings showed that family sense of coherence was significantly and independently associated with hope, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Stronger family sense of coherence was associated with higher hope and lower anxiety and symptoms of depression levels in both persons with cancer and their family members.
CONCLUSION: Health care providers should strive to identify families with weak family sense of coherence, because of its associations with hope, anxiety and symptoms of depression, in order to offer them professional support and thereby achieve increased well-being during the palliative phase of cancer. Future studies should expand our knowledge of family sense of coherence and how to identify families at risk of lower levels of well-being.
Background: Low-dose methadone in addition to another ongoing opioid therapy is a promising approach for managing complex cancer-related pain and is, despite limited evidence, used in clinical practice.
Objective: To investigate the use of low-dose methadone in specialized palliative care in Sweden.
Design: Specialized palliative care services in Sweden answered a survey regarding methadone use in individual patients over 12 months.
Setting/Subjects: The survey was an add-on to the Swedish Register of Palliative Care's (SRPC) mandatory end-of-life questionnaire (ELQ).
Results: Sixty of 133 invited units (45%) participated in the study. A total of 4780 ELQs were registered. Four hundred ten of these patients received methadone (9%). In 96% of these patients, methadone was prescribed as an add-on to ongoing opioid therapy, mostly because of poor pain control due to mixed nociceptive and neuropathic pain (70%). Methadone was used for a median of 21 days, in 86% of cases until death. Mean daily methadone doses increased from 7 mg at start to 21 mg (p < 0.005) during the last 24 hours. Corresponding morphine equivalent daily doses of other opioids were 184 and 199 mg (p < 0.05), respectively. A pain-relieving effect was reported in 94% of the patients. Adverse effects were seen in 20% of the patients; none of these was severe.
Conclusion: The addition of low-dose methadone to an ongoing opioid therapy in patients with complex cancer-related pain is well established in Swedish specialized palliative care. It appears to have good pain-relieving effects and to be safe.