Context: Although it is well known that patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (PC) experience significant symptom burden, few strategies for effective symptom intervention are available for them.
Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of minocycline, an anti-inflammatory agent, for symptom reduction in patients with advanced PC.
Methods: We conducted Phase II, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial to obtain preliminary estimates of the effects on symptom reduction with 100 mg of minocycline or placebo given twice a day. Eligible patients had diagnosed advanced PC and were scheduled for standard chemotherapy. Patient-reported symptoms were measured weekly during the eight-week trial using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) module in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. The primary outcome measure was the area under the curve values of the five most severe symptoms in the two arms.
Results: Of the 44 patients recruited, 31 (71%) were evaluable for the primary efficacy analysis, with 18 received minocycline and 13 placebo. Fatigue, pain, disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, and drowsiness were the most severe symptoms reported by both groups. No significant differences in area under the curve values over time between the study arms were found for the composite MDASI score or single-item scores of the five most severe MDASI items. No treatment-related deaths were reported, and no Grade 3–4 toxicities were observed.
Conclusion: Minocycline is safe for use in patients receiving treatment for PC. There is no observed symptom reduction with minocycline on the major symptom burden associated with advanced PC compared with placebo. Attrition because of rapid disease progression impacted the study significantly.
Background: Advance directives towards end of life decisions are seldom used among Arabs.
Aims: This study aimed at investigating advance care preferences among a sample of Arab patients.
Method: This cross-sectional study was undertaken over the period March 2012-March 2013 on a sample of 300 patients with chronic illness in King Fahad National Guard Hospital, Riyadh, a major tertiary care hospital in Saudi Arabia.
Results: Mean age of patients in the study was 48.7 years (standard deviation 16.4). There were 104 patients on haemodialysis, 73 with advanced malignancy, 81 with chronic liver disease and 35 with chronic respiratory disease. More than 80% of the respondents felt that the physician should make the decision about cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Over 60% wished to remain at home when their condition deteriorated to impending death. There were no significant correlations between the patients' end of life decision preferences and religiosity, quality of life, disease duration, or other demographic characteristics.
Conclusion: Despite a significant lack of knowledge among our participants regarding resuscitation, a majority of patients with chronic illness were willing to discuss the options and were capable of making advance directive plans regarding their health status.
Making known one's end-of-life (EOL) care wishes via the processes of advance care planning (ACP) and advance directive (AD) completion is associated with many positive outcomes for patients including lower healthcare costs, greater patient-provider relationship satisfaction, increased quality of life, and more. Despite these benefits, fewer than 30% of patients in the United States engage in ACP or complete ADs. These low numbers are most likely due to several causes, including low self-efficacy and low motivation to engage in the process. Several researchers have examined the persuasive power of using worry to motivate patients to engage in preventive health behaviors. The present study expands upon this body of literature by examining patient intentions to seek information related to ACP and AD after being exposed to stimuli intended to arouse differing levels of worry regarding bad EOL outcomes. Participants (N = 804) were randomly assigned to either the high worry, low worry, or control group and asked to complete a questionnaire examining beliefs and information seeking intentions regarding ACP and AD completion. Additionally, to control for participants' level of trait worry, each participant completed the Penn State Worry Questionnaire, which was treated as a covariate in the final analysis. A repeated measures MANCOVA found a statistically significant increase for the worrying conditions on the participants' intention to seek information about ACP and ADs from time 1 to time 2 for those in the worry experimental conditions. However, those in the control group did not show a statistically significant increase. Additionally, exposure to the high worry condition was predictive of engaging in actual information seeking behavior about EOL care. Results of the experiment indicate worry is associated with greater motivation to engage in information seeking about ACP and AD. This study contributes to the literature on worry as a persuasive mechanism to motivate patients to engage in important preventative health behaviors.
Background: Our objectives were to test whether during a potentially life-threatening medical emergency, perceived threat (a patient’s sense of life endangerment) in the emergency department (ED) is common and associated with the subsequent development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
Methods: This study was an ED-based prospective cohort study in an academic hospital. We included adult patients requiring acute intervention in the ED for resuscitation of a potentially life-threatening medical emergency, defined as respiratory or cardiovascular instability. We measured patient-perceived threat in the ED using a validated patient self-assessment measure (score range = 0 to 21, with higher scores indicating greater perceived threat). We performed blinded assessment of PTSD symptoms 30 days after discharge using the PTSD Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fifth Edition (PCL-5).
Results: Ninety-nine of 113 (88%) patients completed follow-up, with 98% reporting some degree of perceived threat, median (interquartile range [IQR]) perceived threat score 12 (6 to 17), and 72% reported PTSD symptoms in relation to their ED visit (median [IQR] PC-5 score = 7 [0 to 30]). Patients with respiratory instability had higher median (IQR) perceived threat scores (16 [9 to 18] vs. 9 [6 to 14)] and PCL-5 scores (10 [2 to 40] vs. 3 [0 to 17]) compared to patients without respiratory instability. In a multivariable linear regression model adjusting for potential confounders, greater perceived threat in the ED was independently associated with higher PCL-5 scores (ß = 0.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.15 to 1.42). Among the individual perceived threat items, the feeling of helplessness during resuscitation had the strongest association with PCL-5 score (ß = 5.24, 95% CI = 2.29 to 8.18).
Conclusions: Perceived threat during potentially life-threatening emergencies is common and independently associated with development of PTSD symptoms. Additional research to test whether reduction of perceived threat in the ED attenuates the development of PTSD symptoms following potentially life-threatening emergencies is warranted.
Trial tested effect of advance care planning on family/surrogates’ understanding of patients’ end-of-life treatment preferences longitudinally. A multisite, assessor-blinded, intent-to-treat, parallel-group, randomized controlled clinical trial in five hospital-based HIV clinics enrolled 449 participants aged 22 to 77 years during October 2013-March 2017. Patients living with HIV/family dyads were randomized at 2:1 ratio to 2 weekly ~ 60-min sessions either ACP (n = 155 dyads)—(1) ACP facilitated conversation, (2) Advance directive completion; or Control (n = 68 dyads)—(1) Developmental/relationship history, (2) Nutrition/exercise tips. ACP families/surrogates were more likely to accurately report patients’ treatment preferences at Time 1 (T1) and 12 months post-intervention (T2) compared to controls, experiencing high congruence longitudinally (high high transition), [63·6% vs 37·7% (difference = 25·9%, 95% CI: 11·3%, 40·4%, 2 = 11·52, p = 0·01)], even as patients’ preferences changed over time. ACP families/surrogates had eight times the odds of controls of having an excellent understanding of patients’ treatment preferences (Adjusted Odds Ratio 7.91, 95%CI: 3.08, 20.3).
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To determine the feasibility of conducting a cluster randomized controlled trial providing individualized feedback reports to increase advance care planning (ACP) engagement in the primary care setting.
DESIGN: Pilot cluster randomized controlled trial.
SETTING: Two primary care practices selected for geographic colocation.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged 55 years and older.
INTERVENTION: Brief assessment of readiness to engage in (stage of change for) three ACP behaviors (healthcare agent assignment, communication with agent about quality vs quantity of life, and living will completion) generating an individualized feedback report, plus a stage-matched brochure.
MEASURES: Patient recruitment and retention, intervention delivery, baseline characteristics, and stage of change movement.
RESULTS: Recruitment rates differed by practice. Several baseline sociodemographic characteristics differed between the 38 intervention and 41 control participants, including employment status, education, and communication with healthcare agent. Feedback was successfully delivered to all intervention participants, and over 90% of participants completed a 2-month follow-up. More intervention participants demonstrated progression in readiness than did control participants, without testing for statistical significance.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot demonstrates opportunities and challenges of performing a clustered randomized controlled trial in primary care practices. Differences in the two practice populations highlight the challenges of matching sites. There was a signal for behavior change in the intervention group.
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.
Objectives: Hospital death is comparatively common in people with haematological cancers, but little is known about patient preferences. This study investigated actual and preferred place of death, concurrence between these and characteristics of preferred place discussions.
Methods: Set within a population-based haematological malignancy patient cohort, adults (=18 years) diagnosed 2004–2012 who died 2011–2012 were included (n=963). Data were obtained via routine linkages (date, place and cause of death) and abstraction of hospital records (diagnosis, demographics, preferred place discussions). Logistic regression investigated associations between patient and clinical factors and place of death, and factors associated with the likelihood of having a preferred place discussion.
Results: Of 892 patients (92.6%) alive 2 weeks after diagnosis, 58.0% subsequently died in hospital (home, 20.0%; care home, 11.9%; hospice, 10.2%). A preferred place discussion was documented for 453 patients (50.8%). Discussions were more likely in women (p=0.003), those referred to specialist palliative care (p<0.001), and where cause of death was haematological cancer (p<0.001); and less likely in those living in deprived areas (p=0.005). Patients with a discussion were significantly (p<0.05) less likely to die in hospital. Last recorded preferences were: home (40.6%), hospice (18.1%), hospital (17.7%) and care home (14.1%); two-thirds died in their final preferred place. Multiple discussions occurred for 58.3% of the 453, with preferences varying by proximity to death and participants in the discussion.
Conclusion: Challenges remain in ensuring that patients are supported to have meaningful end-of-life discussions, with healthcare services that are able to respond to changing decisions over time.
BACKGROUND: There is evidence that psychosocial and spiritual interventions of short duration, such as reminiscence therapy, provide positive impacts on quality of life and emotional and existential well-being in adults receiving palliative care.
AIM: To determine (1) the feasibility of integrating 'LIFEView', a video-based software with >1600 videos of world destinations, in palliative care settings, and (2) positive, neutral or harmful effects of using 'LIFEView' videos.
DESIGN: A mixed-methods pre-post intervention pilot study was conducted to collect feasibility and preliminary data on physical and psychological symptoms, physiological indicators, spiritual well-being and aspects of quality of life.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients on an inpatient palliative care unit or receiving care from a community palliative care consultation team who were capable of providing consent and completing the outcome measures were eligible participants.
RESULTS: Overall, 27/41 (66%) participants took part in the study. Feasibility criteria, including participant acceptability, low participant burden, tool completion rate and retention rate, were fulfilled, though challenges were experienced with recruitment. Modest improvements, though non-significant, were shown on preliminary data collected on physical and psychological symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-revised, spiritual well-being assessed by the 12-item Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Spiritual Well-Being scale and physiological measurements. Qualitative analysis revealed five themes: motivations for using 'LIFEView', perceptions of the technology, reminiscence, 'LIFEView' as an adaptable technology and ongoing or future use.
CONCLUSION: A future adequately powered study to investigate the impacts of 'LIFEView' on patient well-being and quality of life appears to be feasible.
Background: The role of cystic fibrosis (CF) care team members in delivering palliative care (PC) remains undefined. We aimed to understand the PC skills of CF care teams.
Methods: CF care team members (“clinicians”), adults with CF (“patients”), and family caregivers (“caregivers”) rated the ability of CF clinicians to provide aspects of PC using a five-point scale (“poor” to “excellent”). Median ratings were compared between groups.
Results: A total of 70 patients, 100 caregivers, and 350 clinicians participated. Clinicians consistently rated their PC skills higher than patients or caregivers rated them, particularly for advanced PC skills. While clinicians, patients, and caregivers rated clinicians as “very good” at basic pain assessment and “good” at discussing prognostic uncertainty, clinicians rated themselves more highly at providing most skills, including simultaneous PC and standard CF care (P < .0001), basic depression assessment (P < .001), and discussing transplant, advance directives, end of life, code status, and hospice (all P < .0001). Respondents affiliated with adult CF care teams rated clinicians more highly than respondents affiliated with pediatric CF care teams at discussing lung transplant (P < .001), end of life (P = .006), advance directives (P < .001), code status (P = .012), and hospice (P = .016). Most patients (69%) and caregivers (60%) felt CF clinicians should receive more PC training.
Conclusions: Discrepancies exist among patient/caregiver and clinician perceptions of PC skills in CF, and skills of adult and pediatric teams may differ. Patients and caregivers feel clinicians’ more advanced PC skills are lacking. CF clinicians may benefit from PC training to enhance skills and to understand how and when to utilize specialty PC services.
Delivery of end-of-life care has gained prominence in the UK, driven by a focus upon the importance of patient choice. In practice choice is influenced by several factors, including the guidance and conduct of healthcare professionals, their different understandings of what constitutes 'a good death', and contested ideas of who is best placed to deliver this. We argue that the attempt to elicit and respond to patient choice is shaped in practice by a struggle between distinct 'institutional logics'. Drawing on qualitative data from a two-part study, we examine the tensions between different professional and organisational logics in the delivery of end-of-life care. Three broad clusters of logics are identified: finance, patient choice and professional authority. We find that the logic of finance shapes the meaning and practice of 'choice', intersecting with the logic of professional authority in order to shape choices that are in the 'best interest' of the patient. Different groups might be able to draw upon alternative forms of professionalism, and through these enact different versions of choice. However, this can resemble a struggle for ownership of patients at the end of life, and therefore, reinforce a conventional script of professional authority.
Background: Given the national shortage of palliative care specialists relative to the need for their services, engaging nonspecialists is important to ensure patients with serious illness have an opportunity to share their goals and values with their providers. Hospital medicine clinicians are well positioned to conduct these conversations given they care for many medically complex patients. Yet, little is known about the patient experience of inpatient goals and values conversations led by hospitalist teams.
Objective: To assess patients' experience and perception of the quality of goals and values conversations.
Design/Setting/Participation: Single center, tertiary care, nonrandomized, two group cohort trial of patients hospitalized on general medical inpatient units staffed by hospital medicine clinicians previously trained to conduct serious illness conversations.
Intervention: An automated screening tool was used to identify patients at increased risk for unmet palliative needs. The multidisciplinary team was informed of the screen's results on the intervention units but not on the control units. Intervention unit clinicians were asked to consider talking with patients about their goals and values.
Results: One hundred thirty patients participated in the study. The intervention patients reported improved quality of communication and fewer anxiety and depression symptoms compared with the control patients. Hospice utilization in addition to emergency department visits and hospital readmissions did not differ between the two groups.
Conclusion: This study suggests that informing the care team regarding their patients' potential unmet palliative care needs is associated with patients reporting improved experience of their care without adverse effects on their mood.
Hospitalized patients with do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders commonly require surgical procedures. When this occurs, the usual practice in our medical center is to suspend the DNR order during the perioperative period. Few studies provide the patient perspective regarding automatic DNR suspension. The research team used a mixed-method, nonexperimental qualitative study design to conduct audio-recorded interviews with 17 nonsurgical patients who had DNR orders. We studied the patients' understanding of DNR status and their expectations regarding the changing of this status if surgery were required. The patients in the study expected a discussion regarding any change in their DNR status before the day of surgery and thought they should have the option to maintain their DNR status.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer, receiving at-home palliative care, are subject to numerous symptoms that are changeable and often require attention, a stressful situation that also impacts on the family caregiver. It has been suggested that music therapy may benefit both the patient and the caregiver. We propose a study to analyse the efficacy and cost utility of a music intervention programme, applied as complementary therapy, for cancer patients in palliative care and for their at-home caregivers, compared to usual treatment.
METHOD: A randomised, double-blind, multicentre clinical trial will be performed in cancer patients in at-home palliative care and their family caregivers. The study population will include two samples of 40 patients and two samples of 41 caregivers. Participants will be randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to the control group. The intervention group will receive a seven-day programme including music sessions, while the control group will receive seven sessions of (spoken word) therapeutic education. In this study, the primary outcome measure is the assessment of patients' symptoms, according to the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, and of the overload experienced by family caregivers, measured by the Caregiver Strain Index. The secondary outcomes considered will be the participants' health-related quality of life, their satisfaction with the intervention, and an economic valuation.
DISCUSSION: This study is expected to enhance our understanding of the efficacy and cost-utility of music therapy for cancer patients in palliative care and for their family caregivers. The results of this project are expected to be applicable and transferrable to usual clinical practice for patients in home palliative care and for their caregivers. The approach described can be incorporated as an additional therapeutic resource within comprehensive palliative care. To our knowledge, no previous high quality studies, based on a double-blind clinical trial, have been undertaken to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of music therapy. The cost-effectiveness of the project will provide information to support decision making, thereby improving the management of health resources and their use within the health system.
BACKGROUND: Emotional preparedness for death (hereafter called death preparedness) and prognostic awareness (PA), a distinct but related concept, each contributes to patients' practical, psychological, and interpersonal preparation for death. However, the distinction between these two concepts has never been investigated.
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the distinction between death preparedness and accurate PA by examining their agreement over cancer patients' last year and the similarity of their predictors.
METHODS: For this secondary analysis of a longitudinal study of death preparedness for 277 cancer patients, agreement between death preparedness and accurate PA was evaluated by percentages and kappa coefficients, and predictors of the two outcomes were evaluated by multivariate logistic regression models with the generalized estimating equation.
RESULTS: Levels of agreement between reported death preparedness and accurate PA increased slightly (42.44%-52.85%) from 181-365 to 1-30 days before death, with kappa values from -0.190 (-0.319, -0.061) to -0.006 (-0.106, 0.093), indicating poor agreement. Participants who were male, older, reported financial sufficiency, had fewer distressing symptoms, and perceived higher levels of social support were more likely to report death preparedness. Participants who were female, had greater than high-school educational attainment, and endured higher levels of functional dependence were more likely to report accurate PA.
CONCLUSION: The distinction between death preparedness and accurate PA was supported by their poor agreement, lack of reciprocal associations, and two different sets of predictors. Healthcare professionals should not only cultivate cancer patients' accurate PA, but also facilitate emotional preparation for death to achieve a good death and improve end-of-life-care quality.
Background: Most patients with advanced heart failure are ill-prepared and poorly supported during the end of life. To date, research has focused primarily on generalized patient accounts of the management or self-care phase of the syndrome. Little research has examined the end of life in depth or from the perspectives of family members.
Aims: The purpose of this study is to describe how people diagnosed with heart failure and their family members describe uncertainty related to impending death.
Methods and results: A narrative inquiry was undertaken using a social constructionist perspective. Twenty participants took part in over 60 interviews: 12 participants with heart failure (eight male and four female; mean = 67.3 years) and eight family members (mean = 61.6 years) engaged in two in-depth interviews, approximately 3–4 months apart, followed by a telephone follow-up 2–3 months later. Six key themes/storylines were identified. These included: prognosis messages received from physicians; whenever I die, I die; loss isn’t new to me but … ; carrying on amidst the fragility of life; ultimately living not knowing; and the need to prepare.
Conclusion: the six key storylines of death and dying with advanced heart failure were consistent for both patients and family members. There was a desire for better communication with physicians. Many participants were critical of how the prognosis of advanced heart failure was communicated to them, even if they anticipated the news. Participants wanted frank, open conversations with their healthcare providers that both acknowledged that they were at end of life but did not remove all hope.
BACKGROUND: The significance of metaphors for the experience of cancer has been the topic of extensive previous research, with "Battle" and "Journey" metaphors standing out as key. Adaptation to the patient's use of metaphor is generally believed to be an important aspect of person-centered care, especially in palliative care. The aim of this study was to investigate the use of metaphors in blogs written in Swedish by people living with advanced cancer and explore possible patterns associated with individuals, age and gender.
METHODS: The study is based on a dataset totaling 2,602,479 words produced some time during the period 2007-2016 by 27 individuals diagnosed with advanced cancer. Both qualitative and quantitative procedures were used, and the findings are represented as raw frequencies as well as normalized frequencies per 10,000 words. Our general approach was exploratory and descriptive. The Mann-Whitney U test was used to analyze statistical significance.
RESULTS: Our results confirm the strong foothold of "Journey" and "Battle" metaphors. "Imprisonment" and "Burden" metaphors were also used by the majority of the individuals. The propensity to use metaphors when describing the cancer experience was found to differ extensively across the individuals. However, individuals were not found to opt for one conceptualization over the other but tended to draw on several different metaphor domains when conceptualizing their experience. Socio-demographic factors such as age or gender were not found to be strong predictors of metaphor choice in this limited study.
CONCLUSIONS: Using a range of different metaphors allows individuals with advanced cancer to highlight different aspects of their experience. The presence of metaphors associated with "Journey", "Battle", "Imprisonment" and "Burden" across individuals could be explained by the fact that the bloggers are part of a culturally consistent cohort, despite variations in age, sex and cancer form. Awareness of metaphors commonly used by patients can enhance health professionals' capacity to identify metaphorical patterns and develop a common language grounded in the patients' own metaphor use, which is an important requisite for person-centered palliative care.
Background: Caregivers are decision stakeholders; yet, few interventions have been developed to help patients and caregivers collaborate on advance care planning (ACP).
Objective: To evaluate a theory-based ACP pilot intervention, Deciding Together, to improve decisional quality, readiness, collaboration, and concordance in ACP decisions for older adult home health (HH) patients and caregivers.
Design: A one-group, pre- and posttest study using matched questionnaires was conducted. The intervention consisted of a clinical vignette, theoretically guided conversation prompts, and a shared decision-making activity.
Setting/Subjects:N = 36 participants (n = 18 HH patients; n = 18 family and nonfamily caregivers) were purposively recruited from a HH agency to participate in the intervention at patients' homes.
Measurements: Demographic and baseline measures were collected for relationship quality, health status, and previous ACP engagement. Outcome measures included perceptions of collaboration, readiness for ACP, concordance in life-sustaining treatment preferences (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, antibiotics, artificial nutrition and hydration, and mechanical ventilation), and decisional conflict. Descriptive statistics, Cohen's coefficients, paired t tests, McNemar's tests, and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests (and effect size estimates, r = z/vN) were calculated using R-3.5.1 (p < 0.05). Single value imputation was used for missing values.
Results: While no significant differences were found for perceptions of collaboration, and readiness for ACP, patients (r = 0.38, p = 0.02) and caregivers (r = 0.38, p = 0.02) had reduced decisional conflict at posttest. Patients' and caregivers' agreement increased by 27.7% for an item assessing patients' preference for artificial nutrition and hydration (p = 0.03).
Conclusions: This study suggests that collaborative ACP decision making may improve decisional conflict for older adult HH patients and their caregivers.