Jean-Pierre Gaume nous propose des clés pour transformer la relation malade - médecin en une véritable communication permettant ainsi au patient de se relier à sa maladie et de la vivre comme un langage porteur de sens. Pour parvenir à ce résultat, l'auteur a proposé dans son livre un guide de bonnes pratiques pour favoriser une écoute active et participative. Ce livre qui s'adresse à tous les soignants soucieux d'améliorer leur relation avec les malades, séduit par la richesse de son contenu et de sa documentation qui s'appuie sur plus de 190 références bibliographiques tirées de la littérature médicale, philosophique, historique, psychanalytique et éthique.
Jean-Pierre Gaume, à travers ses 40 années de médecine générale et ses 20 années d'enseignement de la discipline à la faculté de médecine, nous montre comment nous méfier des seules méthodes diagnostiques dépendantes de la biologie moléculaire, des isotopes ou de l'imagerie moderne pour accéder à la vérité du malade.
Context: Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis accompanied by significant emotional distress, especially for children with advanced disease. However, the content and processes of discussing emotion in advanced pediatric cancer remain unknown.
Objectives: To describe the initiation, response, and content of emotional communication in advanced pediatric cancer.
Methods: We audiorecorded 35 outpatient consultations between oncologists and families of children whose cancer recently progressed. We coded conversations based on Verona Coding Definitions of Emotional Sequences.
Results: About 91% of conversations contained emotional cues, and 40% contained explicit emotional concerns. Parents and clinicians equally initiated cues (parents: 48%, 183 of 385; clinicians: 49%) and concerns (parents: 51%; clinicians: 49%). Children initiated 3% of cues and no explicit concerns. Emotional content was most commonly related to physical aspects of cancer and/or treatment (28% of cues and/or concerns, present in 80% of conversations) and prognosis (27% of cues and/or concerns, present in 60% of conversations). Clinicians mostly responded to emotional cues and concerns implicitly, without specifically naming the emotion (85%). Back channeling (using minimal prompts or words that encourage further disclosure, e.g., uh-huh) was the most common implicit response that provided space for emotional disclosure (32% of all responses). Information advice was the most common implicit response that reduced space for further emotional disclosure (28%).
Conclusion: Emotional communication in advanced pediatric cancer appears to be a subtle process where parents offer hints and clinicians respond with non-emotion-laden statements. Also, children were seldom engaged in emotional conversations. Clinicians should aim to create an environment that allows families to express emotional distress if and/or when ready.
L'entretien entre un professionnel de santé et un patient ou son proche est à la fois le coeur et l'outil de la relation.
Si un échange peut soutenir les personnes, la seule présence du clinicien ne suffit pas, pas plus que la simple conversation.
Pour que l'entretien ait valeur d'acte thérapeutique, il importe que le professionnel adopte une écoute et une attitude spécifiques afin de favoriser l'expression du patient ou de son proche.
Les auteurs, médecins, soignants, psychologues cliniciens, ne livrent pas des trames d'entretiens valables en toutes circonstances, mais des approches applicables à la singularité de chacun.
Ils partagent la richesse de leur pratique quotidienne d'entretiens, qu'ils exercent dans des services de réanimation, de médecine, ou dans le champ psychosocial.
Ils détaillent la diversité de leurs rencontres avec des patients, leur entourage ou toute personne en besoin d'aide et de soutien, que ce soit dans le cadre d'une consultation dédiée ou de façon plus informelle.
Les situations cliniques abordées permettent de saisir les enjeux de l'annonce concernant une évolution défavorable en réanimation, la limitation ou l'arrêt de thérapeutiques actives, le prélèvement d'organes, ou la nécessité d'une dialyse.
Les psychologues sont aussi conduits à intervenir dans des situations de soutien à la parentalité, face à des personnes âgées, en fin de vie, migrantes, des victimes d'abus sexuel, etc.
Cet ouvrage fournit à l'ensemble des professionnels de la santé des repères pour veiller à ce que l'entretien soit un acte thérapeutique.
Il s'agit de contribuer à une avancée vers un mieux-être du patient ou de ses proches, qui vivent des expériences générant des émotions intenses.
BACKGROUND: Early integration of palliative care concurrently to standard cancer care is associated with several benefits for patients and their caregivers. However, communication barriers on part of the caring physicians often impede a timely referral to palliative care. This study describes the protocol of the evaluation of a communication skills training aiming to strengthen the ability of physicians to address palliative care related topics adequately and early during disease trajectory.
METHODS: We will implement a communication skills training and evaluate it within a prospective, multi-centered, two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), which will be conducted at four sites in Germany. Eligible subjects are all physicians treating patients with advanced cancer in their daily routine. An intervention group (IG) receiving a group training will be compared to a wait-list control group (CG) receiving the training after completion of data collection. At pre- and post-measurement points, participants will conduct videotaped conversations with standardized simulated patients (SP). Primary outcome will be the external rating of communication skills and consulting competencies addressing palliative care related topics. Secondary outcomes on core concepts of palliative care, basic knowledge, attitudes, confidence and self-efficacy will be assessed by standardized questionnaires and self-developed items. A further external assessment of the quality of physician-patient-interaction will be conducted by the SP. Longitudinal quantitative data will be analyzed using covariate-adjusted linear mixed-models.
DISCUSSION: If the communication skills training proves to be effective, it will provide a feasible intervention to promote an earlier communication of palliative care related topics in the care of advanced cancer patients. This would help to further establish early integration of palliative care as it is recommended by national and international guidelines.
Hispanic Americans are among the fastest growing minority groups in the USA, and understanding their preferences for medical decision-making and information sharing is imperative to provide high quality end of life care. Studies exploring these decision control preferences (DCPs) are limited and found inconsistent results. (1) To measure DCPs of Hispanic patients in the Bronx. (2) To measure disclosure of information preferences of Hispanic patients in the Bronx. This is a cross-sectional survey. One hundred nineteen cancer patients who self-identified as Hispanic and were waiting at the oncology clinic at Montefiore Medical Center Cancer Center. Proportions of patients endorsing DCPs and disclosure of information preferences are reported. The relationship between patient characteristics and DCPs was tested using chi-squared tests of homogeneity. The majority (63, 52.9%) preferred shared decision-making with their doctors, families or both, while 46 (38.7%) had an active decision-making style. A minority (9, 7.6%) had a passive decision-making style, deferring to their families, and only 1 (0.8%) deferring to the physician. No demographic characteristics significantly predicted DCPs. The majority of patients agreed or strongly agreed that they wanted to hear all of the information regarding their diagnosis (94%), treatment options (94%), treatment expectations (92%), and treatment risks and benefits (96%). These results confirm our hypothesis that most Hispanic patients prefer either an active or shared decision-making process rather than a passive decision-making process. Most patients prefer disclosure of diagnosis, prognosis, and plan.
PURPOSE: Patients with advanced cancer often have a poor understanding of cancer incurability, which correlates with more aggressive treatment near the end of life (EOL). We sought to determine whether training oncologists to elicit patient values for goals-of-care (GoC) discussions will increase and improve these discussions. We explored its impact on use of aggressive care at EOL.
METHODS: We enrolled and used block randomization to assign 92% of solid tumor oncologists to 2-hour communication skills training and four coaching sessions. We surveyed 265 patient with newly diagnosed advanced cancer with < 2-year life expectancy at baseline and 6 months. We assessed prevalence and quality of GoC communication, change in communication skills, and use of aggressive care in the last month of life.
RESULTS: Intervention (INT) oncologists' (n = 11) skill to elicit patient values increased (27%-55%), while usual care (UC) oncologists' (n = 11) skill did not (9%-0%; P = .01). Forty-eight percent (n = 74) INT v 51% (n = 56) UC patients reported a GoC discussion (P = .61). There was no difference in the prevalence or quality of GoC communication between groups (global odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.57 to 1.23). Within 6 months, there was no difference in deaths (18 INT v 16 UC; P = .51), mean hospitalizations (0.47 INT v 0.42 UC; P = .63), intensive care unit admissions (5% INT v 9% UC; P = .65), or chemotherapy (26% INT v 16% UC; P = .39).
CONCLUSION: Use of a coaching model focused on teaching oncologists to elicit patient values improved that skill but did not increase prevalence or quality of GoC discussions among patients with advanced cancer. There was no impact on high care utilization at EOL.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic treatment is no longer available may be offered participation in early phase clinical trials. In the decision making process, both medical-technical information and patient values and preferences are important. Since patients report decisional conflict after deciding on participation in these trials, improving the decision making process is essential. We aim to develop and evaluate an Online Value Clarification Tool (OnVaCT) to assist patients in clarifying their values around this end-of-life decision. This improved sharing of values is hypothesized to support medical oncologists in tailoring their information to individual patients’ needs and, consequently, to support patients in taking decisions in line with their values and reduce decisional conflict.
Methods: In the first part, patients’ values and preferences and medical oncologists’ views hereupon will be explored in interviews and focus groups to build a first prototype OnVaCT using digital communication (serious gaming). Next, we will test feasibility during think aloud sessions, to deliver a ready-to-implement OnVaCT. In the second part, the OnVaCT, with accompanied training module, will be evaluated in a pre-test (12–18 months before implementation) post-test (12–18 months after implementation) study in three major Dutch cancer centres. We will include 276 patients (> 18 years) with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic therapy is no longer available, and who are referred for participation in early phase clinical trials. The first consultation will be recorded to analyse patient-physician communication regarding the discussion of patients’ values and the decision making process. Three weeks afterwards, decisional conflict will be measured.
Discussion: This project aims to support the discussion of patient values when considering participation in early phase clinical trials. By including patients before their first appointment with the medical oncologist and recording that consultation, we are able to link decisional conflict to the decision making process, e.g. the communication during consultation. The study faces challenges such as timely including patients within the short period between referral and first consultation. Furthermore, with new treatments being developed rapidly, molecular stratification may affect the patient populations included in the pre-test and post-test periods.
Rose presented for her first visit to our rural oncology clinic with systolic blood pressure of 220 mm Hg and diastolic 110 mm Hg. She waved my concerns aside with an impatient swipe of her arm. She was there, she wanted me to know, only to talk about her lung cancer.
She cast her steely gaze on me. Did I have her records? I assured her that I did, and that I had done my homework. The records told me that she had first been seen at the tertiary center 2 hours away, where they had established the diagnosis. She had then been referred to me at our rural site to start treatment closer to her home. The disease was locally advanced, stage III, and inoperable. The tertiary center recommended concurrent chemotherapy with radiation or enrollment in a clinical trial.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in end-of-life communication with people with cancer in general practice.
METHODS: Mortality follow-back survey among general practitioners (GPs) in representative epidemiological surveillance networks in Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Spain (ES) in 2009-2010 (ES: 2010-2011) and 2013-2014. Using a standardised form, GPs registered all deceased adult patients in their practice and reported for five end-of-life care topics whether they had been discussed with the patient. Non-sudden cancer deaths were included (n=2306; BE: 1233; NL: 729; ES: 344).
RESULTS: A statistically significant increase was found between 2009/2010 and 2014 in the prevalence of communication about diagnosis (from 84% to 94%) and options for end-of-life care (from 73% to 90%) in BE, and in GPs' awareness of patients' preferences for medical treatment and a proxy decision-maker in BE (from 41% and 20% up to 53% and 28%) and the NL (from 62% and 32% up to 70% and 52%). Communication about options for end-of-life care and psychosocial problems decreased in the NL (from 88% and 91% down to 73%) and ES (from 76% and 77% down to 26% and 39%).
CONCLUSION: Considerable change in GP-patient communication seems possible in a relatively short time span, but communication cannot be assumed to increase over time. Increasing specialisation of care and task differentiation may lead to new roles in communication for healthcare providers in primary and secondary care. Improved information sharing between GPs and other healthcare providers may be necessary to ensure that patients have the chance to discuss important end-of-life topics.
BACKGROUND: While prognostic information is considered important for treatment decision-making, physicians struggle to communicate prognosis to advanced cancer patients. This systematic review aimed to offer up-to-date, evidence-based guidance on prognostic communication in palliative oncology.
METHODS: PubMed and PsycInfo were searched until September 2019 for literature on the association between prognostic disclosure (strategies) and patient outcomes in palliative cancer care, and its moderators. Methodological quality was reported.
RESULTS: Eighteen studies were included. Concerning prognostic disclosure, results revealed a positive association with patients' prognostic awareness. Findings showed no or positive associations between prognostic disclosure and the physician-patient relationship or the discussion of care preferences. Evidence for an association with the documentation of care preferences or physical outcomes was lacking. Findings on the emotional consequences of prognostic disclosure were multifaceted. Concerning disclosure strategies, affective communication seemingly reduced patients' physiological arousal and improved perceived physician's support. Affective and explicit communication showed no or beneficial effects on patients' psychological well-being and satisfaction. Communicating multiple survival scenarios improved prognostic understanding. Physicians displaying expertise, positivity and collaboration fostered hope. Evidence on demographic, clinical and personality factors moderating the effect of prognostic communication was weak.
CONCLUSION: If preferred by patients, physicians could disclose prognosis using sensible strategies. The combination of explicit and affective communication, multiple survival scenarios and expert, positive, collaborative behaviour likely benefits most patients. Still, more evidence is needed, and tailoring communication to individual patients is warranted.
IMPLICATIONS: Future research should examine the effect of prognostic communication on psychological well-being over time and treatment decision-making, and focus on individualising care.
Since Oregon implemented its Death with Dignity Act, many additional states have followed suit demonstrating a growing understanding and acceptance of aid in dying (AID) processes. Traditionally, the patient has been the one to request and seek this option out. However, as Death with Dignity acts continue to expand, it will impact the role of physicians and bring up questions over whether physicians have the ethical obligation to facilitate a conversation about AID with patients during end of life discussions. Patients have the right to make informed decisions about their health, which implies that physicians have an obligation to discuss with and inform patients of the options that will accomplish the patients’ goals of care. We will argue that physicians have an ethical obligation to inform certain patients about AID (in qualifying states) during end of life care discussions. We will also address what this obligation encompasses and explore guidelines of when and how these conversations should occur and proceed. Earlier guidelines, presented by various palliative care and ethics experts, for proceeding with such conversations have mostly agreed that the discussion of hospice and end of life care with patients should be initiated early and that the individual goals of a patient during the remaining duration of life should be thoroughly examined before discussion of appropriate options. In discussing AID, physicians should never recommend but inform patients about the basics so that they can make an informed decision. If patients express further interest in AID, the physician should open up the dialogue to address the reasoning behind this decision versus other possible treatments to ensure that patients clearly comprehend the process and implications of their decision. Ultimately, any end of life choice should be made by patients with the full capacity to express what they envision for the remaining duration of life and to comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of all the possible options.
Background: General practitioners’ (GPs) play a central role in facilitating end-of-life discussions with older patients nearing the end-of-life. However, prognostic uncertainty of time to death is one important barrier to initiation of these discussions.
Objective: To explore GPs’ perceptions of the feasibility and acceptability of a risk prediction checklist to identify older patients in their last 12 months of life and describe perceived barriers and facilitators for implementing end-of-life planning.
Methods: Qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 GPs practising in metropolitan locations in New South Wales and Queensland between May and June 2019. Data were analysed thematically.
Results: Eight themes emerged: accessibility and implementation of the checklist, uncertainty around checklist’s accuracy and usefulness, time of the checklist, checklist as a potential prompt for end-of-life conversations, end-of-life conversations not an easy topic, end-of-life conversation requires time and effort, uncertainty in identifying end-of-life patients and limited community literacy on end-of-life. Most participants welcomed a risk prediction checklist in routine practice if assured of its accuracy in identifying which patients were nearing end-of-life.
Conclusions: Most participating GPs saw the value in risk assessment and end-of-life planning. Many emphasized the need for appropriate support, tools and funding for prognostic screening and end-of-life planning for this to become routine in general practice. Well validated risk prediction tools are needed to increase clinician confidence in identifying risk of death to support end-of-life care planning.
PURPOSE: Opportunities for advance care planning (ACP) discussions continue to be missed despite the demonstrated benefit of such conversations. This is in part because of a poor understanding of patient preferences. We aimed to determine oncology patients’ preferences surrounding ACP with a focus on the choice of which health care providers to have the conversation with and the timing of conversations.
METHODS: cross-sectional 19-question survey of surgical and medical oncology patients in a tertiary care hospital was conducted that assessed knowledge, experience, and preferences surrounding ACP. Quantitative variables were reported with descriptive statistics, and a coding structure was developed to analyze qualitative data.
RESULTS: Two hundred patients were surveyed. Only 24% of patients reported previously having ACP discussions with their physicians despite 82.5% reporting a wish to do so. Patients felt that these discussions were a priority for them (to alleviate familial guilt, maintain control, and prevent others’ values from guiding end-of-life care), but they reported that previous experiences with ACP had been neither comprehensive nor effective. Most patients (43.5%) preferred to have ACP discussions with their primary care providers (PCPs) compared with 7% preferring their surgeon and 5.5% preferring their oncologist. Trust and familiarity with PCPs arose as the dominant theme underlying this selection. Most patients (94%) preferred to have ACP discussions early, with 45% wishing such a discussion had been initiated before their cancer diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Patients with cancer prefer to have ACP discussions with their PCPs and prefer to do so early in their disease course.
Objectives: To estimate the probability of a substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing an affirmative patient response to the phrase "Do you want everything done?"
Design: Discrete choice experiment.
Setting: Single community hospital in Ontario.
Subjects: Nonrandom sampling of healthcare providers and the public.
Intervention: Online survey.
Measurements and Main Results: Of the 1,621 subjects who entered the survey, 692 consented and 432 completed the survey. Females comprised 73% of subjects. Over 95% of subjects were under 65 years old, and 50% had some intensive care-related exposure. Healthcare providers comprised 29% of the subjects. The relative importance of attributes for determining the probability of withdraw life-sustaining therapy by substitute decision makers was as follows: stated patient preferences equals to 23.4%; patient age equals to 20.6%; physical function prognosis equals to 15.2%; length of ICU stay equals to 14.4%; survival prognosis equals to 13.8%; and prognosis for communication equals to 12.6%. Using attribute level utilities, the probability of an substitute decision maker choosing to withdraw life-sustaining therapy after hearing a patient answer in the affirmative "Do you want everything done?" compared with "I would not want to live if I could not take care of myself" was 18.8% (95% CI, 17.2-20.4%) versus 59.8% (95% CI, 57.6-62.0%) after controlling for all the other five attribute levels in the scenario: age greater than 80 years; survival prognosis less than 1%; length of ICU stay greater than 6 months; communication equals to unresponsive; and physical equals to bed bound.
Conclusions: Using a discrete choice experiment survey, we estimated the impact of a commonly employed and poorly understood phrase physicians may use when discussing advance care plans with patients and their substitute decision makers on the subsequent withdraw life-sustaining therapies. This phrase is predicted to dramatically reduce the likelihood of withdraw life-sustaining therapy even in medically nonbeneficial scenarios and potentially contribute to low-value end-of-life care and outcomes. The immediate cessation of this term should be reinforced in medical training for all healthcare providers who participate in advance care planning.
Background: To improve the quality of advance care planning (ACP) in primary care, it is important to understand the frequency of and topics involved in the ACP discussion between patients and their family physicians (FPs).
Methods: A secondary analysis of a previous multicenter cross-sectional observational study was performed. The primary outcome of this analysis was the frequency of and topics involved in the ACP discussion between outpatients and FPs. In March 2017, 22 family physicians at 17 clinics scheduled a day to assess outpatients and enrolled patients older than 65 years who were recognized by FPs as having regular visits. We defined three ACP discussion topics: 1) future decline in activities of daily living (ADL), 2) future inability to eat, and 3) surrogate decision makers. FPs assessed whether they had ever discussed any ACP topics with each patient and their family members, and if they had documented the results of these discussions in medical records before patients were enrolled in the present study. We defined patients as being at risk of deteriorating and dying if they had at least 2 positive general indicators or at least 1 positive disease-specific indicator in the Japanese version of the Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool.
Results: In total, 382 patients with a mean age of 77.4 ± 7.9 years were enrolled, and 63.1% were female. Seventy-nine patients (20.7%) had discussed at least one ACP topic with their FPs. However, only 23 patients (6.0%) had discussed an ACP topic with family members and their FPs, with the results being documented in their medical records. The topic of future ADL decline was discussed and documented more often than the other two topics. Patients at risk of deteriorating and dying discussed ACP topics significantly more often than those not at risk of deteriorating and dying (39.4% vs. 16.8%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: FPs may discuss ACP with some of their patients, but may not often document the results of this discussion in medical records. FPs need to be encouraged to discuss ACP with patients and family members and describe the decisions reached in medical records.
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.
Background: Palliative systematic treatment offers uncertain and often limited benefits, and the burden can be high. Hence, treatment decisions require shared decision making (SDM). This trial examined the independent and combined effect of an oncologist training and a patient communication aid on SDM.
Methods: In this multicenter randomized controlled trial with four parallel arms (2016–2018), oncologists (n = 31) were randomized to receive SDM communication skills training or not. The training consisted of a reader, two group sessions, a booster session, and a consultation room tool (10 hours). Patients (n = 194) with advanced cancer were randomized to receive a patient communication aid or not. The aid consisted of education on SDM, a question prompt list, and a value clarification exercise. The primary outcome was observed SDM as rated by blinded observers from audio-recorded consultations. Secondary outcomes included patient-reported SDM, patient and oncologist satisfaction, patients’ decisional conflict, patient quality of life 3 months after consultation, consultation duration, and the decision made.
Results: The oncologist training had a large positive effect on observed SDM (Cohen's d = 1.12) and on patient-reported SDM (d = 0.73). The patient communication aid did not improve SDM. The combination of interventions did not add to the effect of training oncologists only. The interventions affected neither patient nor oncologist satisfaction with the consultation nor patients’ decisional conflict, quality of life, consultation duration, or the decision made.
Conclusion: Training medical oncologists in SDM about palliative systemic treatment improves both observed and patient-reported SDM. A patient communication aid does not. The incorporation of skills training in (continuing) educational programs for medical oncologists is likely to stimulate the widely advocated uptake of shared decision making in clinical practice. Trial registration. Netherlands Trial Registry NTR 5489.
Implications for Practice: Treatment for advanced cancer offers uncertain and often small benefits, and the burden can be high. Hence, treatment decisions require shared decision making (SDM). SDM is increasingly advocated for ethical reasons and for its beneficial effect on patient outcomes. Few initiatives to stimulate SDM are evaluated in robust designs. This randomized controlled trial shows that training medical oncologists improves both observed and patient-reported SDM in clinical encounters (n = 194). A preconsultation communication aid for patients did not add to the effect of training oncologists. SDM training effectively changes oncologists’ practice and should be implemented in (continuing) educational programs.
Introduction: The ability of oncologists to understand patients’ goals of care is recognized as a key component of quality care. The purpose of this study is to examine the influence of patient–oncologist agreement regarding goals of care upon aggressive care at end of life (EOL) for patients with advanced cancer.
Methods: Patients with advanced cancer and their oncologists were interviewed at study enrollment and every 3 months thereafter until patient death or end of the study period (15 months). A 100-point visual analogue scale was used to represent goals of care, with quality of life (scored as 0) and survival (scored as 100) as anchors. Strong goal of care agreement for survival was defined as oncologist and patient dyadic goal of care scores that fell between 70 and 100 (100 = highest goal for survival) and for comfort, dyadic goal of care values that fell between 0 and 30 (0 = high goal for comfort).
Results: Two hundred and six patients and eleven oncologists provided data. At the last interview prior to death, 23.3% of dyads had strong goal of care agreement for either survival (8.3%) or comfort (15%) and 76.7% had no strong agreement. There was a significant association between aggressive care use and categories of dyadic agreement regarding goals of care (p = 0.024, Cramer’s V = 0.15).
Conclusions: A large percentage of oncologists did not understand their patients’ EOL goals of care. While aggressive care aligned with categories of dyadic agreement for goals of care, high rates of aggressive care were reported.
Communicating prognosis clearly and empathically can foster accurate prognostic awareness in patients with advanced cancer and their family members. Whereas patients and doctors desire clear prognostic communication, it presents many challenges in oncologic and palliative care settings. Patients with advanced cancer often have poor prognostic awareness as a result of deficiencies in doctor communication and understandable-and potentially adaptive-attempts by patients and families to reduce the threat of death and maintain hope. Interventions to promote prognostic discussion have largely succeeded in increasing the frequency, but not necessarily the quality, of such discussions, yet have failed to improve prognostic awareness. Because clear communication of prognosis is an ethical mandate, more research is needed to provide an evidence base for teaching and practice in this area.
Existing sociological research documents patient and physician reticence to discuss death in the context of a patient's end of life. This study offers a new approach to analyzing how death gets discussed in medical interaction. Using a corpus of 90 video-recorded oncology visits and conversation analytic (CA) methods, this analysis reveals that when existing parameters are expanded to look at mentions of death outside of the end-of-life context, physicians do discuss death with their patients. Specifically, the most frequent way physicians invoke death is in a persuasive context during treatment recommendation discussions. When patients demonstrate active or passive resistance to a recommendation, physicians invoke the possibility of the patient's death to push back against this resistance and lobby for treatment. Occasionally, physicians invoke death in instances where resistance is anticipated but never actualized. Similarly, death invocations function for treatment advocacy. Ultimately, this study concludes that physicians in these data invoke death to leverage their professional authority for particular treatment outcomes.