OBJECTIVES: End-of-life hospitalisations may not be associated with improved quality of life. Studies indicate differences in end-of-life care for cancer and non-cancer patients; however, data on hospital utilisation are sparse. This study aimed to compare end-of-life hospitalisation and place of death among patients dying from cancer, heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
DESIGN: A nationwide register-based cohort study.
SETTING: Data on all in-hospital admissions obtained from nationwide Danish medical registries.
PARTICIPANTS: All decedents dying from cancer, heart failure or COPD disease in Denmark between 2006 and 2015.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Data on all in-hospital admissions within 6 months and 30 days before death as well as place of death. Comparisons were made according to cause of death while adjusting for age, sex, comorbidity, partner status and residential region.
RESULTS: Among 154 235 decedents, the median total bed days in hospital within 6 months before death was 19 days for cancer patients, 10 days for patients with heart failure and 11 days for patients with COPD. Within 30 days before death, this was 9 days for cancer patients, and 6 days for patients with heart failure and COPD. Compared with cancer patients, the adjusted relative bed day use was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.63 to 0.68) for heart failure patients and 0.68 (95% CI, 0.66 to 0.69) for patients with COPD within 6 months before death. Correspondingly, this was 0.65 (95% CI, 0.63 to 0.68) and 0.70 (95% CI, 0.68 to 0.71) within 30 days before death.Patients had almost the same risk of dying in hospital independently of death cause (46.2% to 56.0%).
CONCLUSION: Patients with cancer, heart failure and COPD all spent considerable part of their end of life in hospital. Hospital use was highest among cancer patients; however, absolute differences were small.
BACKGROUND: As the global population ages, palliative care is ever more essential to provide care for patients with incurable chronic conditions. However, in many countries, doctors are not prepared to care for dying patients. Palliative care education should be an urgent concern for all medical schools all around the world, including Latin America and Brazil. Advances in palliative care education require robust assessment tools for constant evaluation and improvement of educational programmes. Bandura's social cognitive theory proposes that active learning processes are mediated by self-efficacy and associated outcome expectancies, both crucial elements of developing new behaviour. The Self-Efficacy in Palliative Care (SEPC) and Thanatophobia Scales were developed using Bandura's theory to assess the outcomes of palliative care training.
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to translate and validate these scales for Brazilian Portuguese to generate data on how well doctors are being prepared to meet the needs of their patients.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.
SETTING: One Brazilian medical school.
PARTICIPANTS: Third-year medical students.
METHODS: The authors translated the scales following the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer's recommendations and examined their psychometric properties using data collected from a sample of 111 students in a Brazilian medical school in 2017.
RESULTS: The Brazilian versions of SEPC and Thanatophobia Scales showed good psychometric properties, including confirmatory factor analysis, replicating the original factors (factor range: 0.51-0.90), and acceptable values of reliability (Cronbach's alpha: 0.82-0.97 and composite reliability: 0.82-0.96). Additionally, the Brazilian versions of the scales showed concurrent validity, demonstrated through a significant negative correlation.
CONCLUSIONS: The Brazilian version of the scales may be used to assess the impact of current undergraduate training and identify areas for improvement within palliative care educational programmes. The data generated allow Brazilian researchers to join international conversations on this topic and educators to develop tailored pedagogical approaches.
OBJECTIVE: To identify barriers, as perceived by parents, to good care for children with life-threatening conditions.
DESIGN: In a nationwide qualitative study, we held in-depth interviews regarding end-of-life care with parents of children (aged 1 to 12 years) who were living with a life-threatening illness or who had died after a medical trajectory (a maximum of 5 years after the death of the child). Sampling was aimed at obtaining maximum variety for a number of factors. The interviews were transcribed and analysed.
SETTING: The Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: 64 parents of 44 children.
RESULTS: Parents identified six categories of difficulties that create barriers in the care for children with a life-threatening condition. First, parents wished for more empathetic and open communication about the illness and prognosis. Second, organisational barriers create bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of continuity of care. Third, parents wished for more involvement in decision-making. Fourth, parents wished they had more support from the healthcare team on end-of-life decision-making. Fifth, parents experienced a lack of attention for the family during the illness and after the death of their child. Sixth, parents experienced an overemphasis on symptom-treatment and lack of attention for their child as a person.
CONCLUSIONS: The barriers as perceived by parents focussed almost without exception on non-medical aspects: patient-doctor relationships; communication; decision-making, including end-of-life decision-making; and organisation. The perceived barriers indicate that care for children with a life-threatening condition focusses too much on symptoms and not enough on the human beings behind these symptoms.
BACKGROUND: The legalisation of medical assistance in dying in numerous countries over the last 20 years represents a significant shift in practice and scope for many clinicians who have had little-to-no training to prepare them to sensitively respond to patient requests for hastened death.
AIMS: Our objective was to review the existing qualitative literature on the experiences of healthcare providers responding to requests for hastened death with the aim of answering the question: how do clinicians make sense of, and respond to patients' expressed wishes for hastened death?
METHODS: We performed a systematic review and meta-synthesis of primary qualitative research articles that described the experiences and perspectives of healthcare professionals who have responded to requests for hastened death in jurisdictions where MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) was legal or depenalised. A staged coding process was used to identify and analyse core themes.
RESULTS: Although the response to requests for hastened death varied case-by-case, clinicians formulated their responses by considering seven distinct domains. These include: policies, professional identity, commitment to patient autonomy, personal values and beliefs, the patient-clinician relationship, the request for hastened death and the clinician's emotional and psychological response.
CONCLUSION: Responding to a request for hastened death can be an overwhelming task for clinicians. An approach that takes into consideration the legal, personal, professional and patient perspectives is required to provide a response that encompasses all the complexities associated with such a monumental request.
I had been on the phone with Madeleine's mother for fifteen minutes, and she had sobbed throughout. She pleaded with me, "You won't even let our family visit her together. If you really want to help my daughter, you will let us stay with her." Madeleine, who was twenty-four years old, was dying of end-stage acute myeloid leukemia and was intubated in one of our intensive care units. Her intensivist had requested a clinical ethics consultation for potentially inappropriate medical treatment-in my world of clinical ethics consultation, routine stuff. Except that, in March 2020, nothing was routine anymore. The Covid-19 pandemic calls for creative thinking about ad hoc and post hoc bereavement efforts, and it may result in efforts to revise existing accounts of what constitutes a good death in order to accommodate patients' and families' experiences at the end of life during a pandemic.
L’offre de soins à domicile a beaucoup évolué ces vingt dernières années pour répondre aux besoins de la population et pour s’adapter aux contraintes du système de santé. Après les réseaux de santé, les maisons des réseaux, puis les plateformes territoriales d’appui, de nouveaux dispositifs d’aide à la coordination permettent aux soignants du domicile d’organiser la prise en charge des personnes en situation de santé complexe. Illustration avec un réseau de soins palliatifs en Normandie.
Little is known about Marshallese palliative care practices. We explored traditional and contemporary Marshallese palliative care practices and examined generational differences. We performed three focus groups in 2011-2012 among Marshall Islanders in Hawai'i. A native speaking interpreter assisted group facilitators. Data were analyzed using classical thematic triangulation methods to identify specific Marshallese palliative care practices, the effect of economic and social challenges in Hawai'i, and generational differences comparing young and old. Nineteen persons (10 men and 9 women, youth aged 17-27 years, and elders as defined in Marshallese culture, aged 46-79) participated. A "good death" was defined as "peaceful and pain free," occurring from natural causes. Factors associated with a "good death" included gathering of family to absolve conflicts, and proper and timely cultural practices. Factors associated with "bad deaths" included young age, active suffering, accidents, suicides, "black magic/curses," or lack of timely or proper burial. Comparing generational differences, older Marshallese had differing opinions regarding preferred place of death, burial site, cultural practice preservation, artificial prolongation of life, and cremation. Barriers included mortuary fees, cost of transporting bodies, United States (US) government policies, and wait times for death certificates. Many cultural factors contribute to "good" or "bad" deaths. Attitudes toward palliative care practices differ by generation. Having previously documented different approaches by Yapese, a generalized "one size fits all" approach to Micronesians is inappropriate. Overcoming identified barriers may facilitate practices necessary for a good death in Micronesian populations in their home nations and as they migrate to communities throughout the US.
A 74-year-old man presented with recurrent syncope 3 months after definitive surgery for hypopharyngeal cancer. The patient experienced dizziness and severe hypotension on the movement of the neck and head. CT revealed disease recurrence with masses encasing the left internal carotid artery. The patient was diagnosed with vasodepressor type of tumour-induced carotid sinus syndrome (tiCSS) and was referred for palliative intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Ten days after the commencement of IMRT (25 Gy in five fractions), the symptoms of tiCSS improved, and there was no re-exacerbation of the symptoms till the patient died 56 days after the commencement of RT. Palliative IMRT was feasible and effective for recurrent malignant tiCSS. Given the fact that palliative IMRT is minimally invasive, this option could be widely adapted for patients with such poor general condition and prognosis.
Background: International research has shown that healthcare professionals (HCPs) and nonhealthcare professionals (NHCPs) are unaware of the goals and purposes of palliative care. This study evaluates the knowledge of palliative care among a sample of Portuguese adults and correlates their level of knowledge with age, gender, profession, and experience of family member's palliative care.
Method: A cross-sectional online survey was carried out on a sample of 152 HCPs and 440 NHCPs who completed an anonymous questionnaire of sociodemographic, family, and professional data, and an instrument of 26 dichotomous (true or false) questions focusing on palliative care goals and purposes.
Results: The 592 participants had a mean age of 31.3 ± 11.1 years, and most were female. Statistically significant differences between statements considered as correct by HCPs and NHCPs were found in 24 statements; HCPs had the highest percentage of correct answers. The terms most frequently associated with palliative care mentioned by NHCPs were chronic and progressive disease (n = 76), while HCPs mostly mentioned quality-of-life promotion (n = 29). Women, the elderly, and HCPs had a higher level of knowledge regarding palliative care (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Results clearly show gaps in knowledge of palliative care, especially among NHCPs. An integrated approach is needed to inform and clarify the philosophy and goals of palliative care in different settings in order to improve knowledge.
BACKGROUND: Early palliative care consultation ("PCC") to discuss goals-of-care benefits seriously ill patients. Risk factor profiles associated with the timing of conversations in hospitals, where late conversations most likely occur, are needed.
OBJECTIVE: To identify risk factor patient profiles associated with PCC timing before death.
METHODS: Secondary analysis of an observational study was conducted at an urban, academic medical center. Patients aged 18 years and older admitted to the medical center, who had PCC, and died July 1, 2014 to October 31, 2016, were included. Patients admitted for childbirth or rehabilitationand patients whose date of death was unknown were excluded. Classification and Regression Tree modeling was employed using demographic and clinical variables.
RESULTS: Of 1141 patients, 54% had PCC "close to death" (0-14 days before death); 26% had PCC 15 to 60 days before death; 21% had PCC >60 days before death (median 13 days before death). Variables associated with receiving PCC close to death included being Hispanic or "Other" race/ethnicity intensive care patients with extreme illness severity (85%), with age <46 or >75 increasing this probability (98%). Intensive care patients with extreme illness severity were also likely to receive PCC close to death (64%) as were 50% of intensive care patients with less than extreme illness severity.
CONCLUSIONS: A majority of patients received PCC close to death. A complex set of variable interactions were associated with PCC timing. A systematic process for engaging patients with PCC earlier in the care continuum, and in intensive care regardless of illness severity, is needed.
The need for training to help healthcare professionals and hospice palliative care volunteers deal with unusual experiences at or around the end of a person's life is an oft-repeated theme in the scientific literature. A pilot study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of a training module designed to improve volunteers' ability to recognize, understand, and respond to unusual end-of-life phenomena (EOLP) in their work with dying patients and their families. Twenty-four volunteers from two community-based hospice palliative care programs completed the 25-item Coping with Unusual End-of-Life Experiences Scale (CUEES) prior to and immediately after attending a lecture and PowerPoint training module. A series of paired samples t tests revealed significant pre- and post-training differences on 14 items, suggesting that volunteers felt more knowledgeable about EOLP, better prepared to deal with EOLP, and more comfortable talking about EOLP with others following the training. The need for additional data is discussed.
BACKGROUND: Respect for autonomy is a paramount principle in end-of-life ethics. Nevertheless, empirical studies show that decision-making, exclusively focused on the individual exercise of autonomy fails to align well with patients' preferences at the end of life. The need for a more contextualized approach that meets real-life complexities experienced in end-of-life practices has been repeatedly advocated. In this regard, the notion of 'relational autonomy' may be a suitable alternative approach. Relational autonomy has even been advanced as a foundational notion of palliative care, shared decision-making, and advance-care planning. However, relational autonomy in end-of-life care is far from being clearly conceptualized or practically operationalized.
MAIN BODY: Here, we develop a relational account of autonomy in end-of-life care, one based on a dialogue between lived reality and conceptual thinking. We first show that the complexities of autonomy as experienced by patients and caregivers in end-of-life practices are inadequately acknowledged. Second, we critically reflect on how engaging a notion of relational autonomy can be an adequate answer to addressing these complexities. Our proposal brings into dialogue different ethical perspectives and incorporates multidimensional, socially embedded, scalar, and temporal aspects of relational theories of autonomy. We start our reflection with a case in end-of-life care, which we use as an illustration throughout our analysis.
CONCLUSION: This article develops a relational account of autonomy, which responds to major shortcomings uncovered in the mainstream interpretation of this principle and which can be applied to end-of-life care practices.
OBJECTIVES: Clinical use of the creative arts in palliative care is well established, yet there are few evaluation studies of these programs.
METHODS: In this first phase of a 3-phase evaluation of a creative arts program entitled "Tile Tales," we conducted a retrospective thematic analysis of 85 painted tiles and accompanying stories that were publically displayed on a tertiary palliative care unit. Each story was independently coded, using content analysis. Themes were derived through consensus, using the constant comparative method.
RESULTS: Tiles were created by staff (n = 36, 42%), family (n = 32, 38%), patients (n = 9, 11%), or patients and family (n = 8, 9%). Six major themes emerged from the artwork: "Spirituality," "Relationships," "Journey," "Story," "Symbolism," and "Paradox."
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: These results illustrate how the creative arts can support the expression of diverse palliative care experiences, for patients, their families and palliative care staff, when words alone may not suffice.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care should be holistic, but spiritual issues are often overlooked. General practitioners and nurses working together in PaTz-groups (palliative home care groups) consider spiritual issues in palliative care to be relevant, but experience barriers in addressing spiritual issues and finding spiritual caregivers. This study evaluates the feasibility and perceived added value of a listening consultation service by spiritual caregivers in primary palliative care.
METHODS: From December 2018 until September 2019, we piloted a listening consultation service in which spiritual caregivers joined 3 PaTz-groups whose members referred patients or their relatives with spiritual care needs to them. Evaluation occurred through (i) monitoring of the implementation, (ii) in-depth interviews with patients (n = 5) and involved spiritual caregivers (n = 5), (iii) short group interviews in 3 PaTz-groups (17 GPs, 10 nurses and 3 palliative consultants), and (iv) questionnaires filled out by the GP after each referral, and by the spiritual caregiver after each consultation. Data was analysed thematically and descriptively.
RESULTS: Consultations mostly took place on appointment at the patients home instead of originally intended walk-in consultation hours. Consultations were most often with relatives (72%), followed by patients and relatives together (17%) and patients (11%). Relatives also had more consecutive consultations (mean 4.1 compared to 2.2 for patients). Consultations were on existential and relational issues, loss, grief and identity were main themes. Start-up of the referrals took more time and effort than expected. In time, several GPs of each PaTz-group referred patients to the spiritual caregiver. In general, consultations and joint PaTz-meetings were experienced as of added value. All patients and relatives as well as several GPs and nurses experienced more attention for and awareness of the spiritual domain. Patients and relatives particularly valued professional support of spiritual caregivers, as well as recognition of grief as an normal aspect of life.
CONCLUSIONS: If sufficient effort is given to implementation, listening consultation services can be a good method for PaTz-groups to find and cooperate with spiritual caregivers, as well as for integrating spiritual care in primary palliative care. This may strengthen care in the spiritual domain, especially for relatives who are mourning.
BACKGROUND: Palliative needs in older patients are often not timely identified. The Surprise Question (SQ) 'would I be surprised if this patient died in the next year?' is a well-researched tool that could aid in this effort. Most studies thus far involved physicians or specialist nurses, however the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses caring for hospitalized older patients is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the predictive value of the SQ when used by general nurses and student nurses, in determining one year mortality in acutely hospitalized older patients.
DESIGN: Observational cohort study with an one year follow-up.
SETTING: One academic and one regional hospital in the Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients >=70 years acutely hospitalized for at least 48 hours.
METHODS: Registered nurses and student nurses answered the SQ with 'No' (a positive SQ), 'Yes' or 'Don't know'. Data on student nurses was analysed separately. The sensitivity, specificity, negative- and positive predictive values were calculated. Furthermore, logistic regression was performed to determine the odds of death.
RESULTS: 66 registered nurses answered the SQ for 252 patients of whom 77 (30.6%) died in the year after inclusion. Respectively, 44%, 14% and 22% died within the 'No', 'Yes' and 'Don't know' group. 85% of patients who died during admission or in the first three months post-discharge were identified. The sensitivity and specificity were 76.7% and 56.6%. The positive and negative predictive values were 43.7% and 84.6 %. Compared to persons in whom the SQ was answered with yes, a no answer was associated with an 4.7 times increased odds of dying in the next 12 months (odds ratio 4.71, 95% CI 2.43-9.12, p<0.001). Additionally, 20 student nurses answered the SQ about 73 patients; sensitivity and specificity were 46.7% and 72.1%, with a positive and negative predictive value of 53.8% and 66.0% respectively.
CONCLUSION: The usability of the Surprise Question in predicting 12-month mortality in older acutely admitted patients is limited, due to the high false positive rate. The SQ when used by non-specialized nurses identifies vulnerable patients with an increased mortality risk and can be used as a first step in assessing a patients' palliative needs, but has limited use as a single criterion for referral to specialist palliative care.
In a field that strives to care for patients and families together, what can palliative care clinicians do when patients' families are physically absent? The Covid-19 pandemic has put both literal and figurative walls between health care professionals and families. How health care workers respond to these disconnections might have a lasting impact on patients, on families, and on our practice. Recently, I saw this in the case of a patient our palliative care team was consulted to see. Mr. B was minimally responsive and dying from multisystem organ failure of unclear etiology. As in other cases during this pandemic, our team became a facilitator of interaction between the patient and the physically absent family, seeing an intimacy we normally would not, in this case, by being present while our intern held the phone to Mr. B's ear for an end-of-life call from his wife, son, and daughter. Such moments force us clinicians to be even more present for our families and patients, and they allow us to bear witness to the strength and sadness and love that we might otherwise miss.
OBJECTIVES: Hospice care (HC) is seen as a comprehensive approach, that enhances quality of end-of-life (EOL) care, for terminally ill patients. Despite its positive aspects, HC enrolment is disproportionate for rural patients, who are less likely to use HC in comparison to their urban counterparts. The purpose of this study was to explore decision-making experiences, related to utilisation of HC programmes from a retrospective perspective, with family caregivers (FCGs) in a rural US-Mexico border region.
DESIGN: This qualitative study was conducted from May 2017 to January 2018 using semistructured face to face interviews with FCGs. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
SETTING: The HC programme was situated at a local home health agency, located in rural Southern California, USA.
PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-eight informal FCGs of patients who were actively enrolled in the HC programme agreed to participate in the study.
RESULTS: Conversation about HC as an option was initiated by home healthcare staff (39.3%), followed by physicians (32.1%). Emerging themes related to challenges in utilisation of HC and decision-making included: (1) communication barriers; (2) lack of knowledge/misperception about HC; (3) emotional difficulties, including fear of losing their patient, doubt and uncertainty about the decision, denial and (4) patients are not ready for HC. Facilitators included: (1) patient's known EOL wishes; (2) FCG-physician EOL communication; (3) the patient's deteriorating health and (4) home as the place for death.
CONCLUSIONS: HC patients' FCGs in this rural region reported a lack of knowledge or misunderstanding of HC. It is recommended that healthcare providers need to actively engage family members in patient's EOL care planning. Optimal transition to an HC programme can be facilitated when FCGs are informed and have a clear understanding about patients' medical status along with information about HC.
Palliative care is the turn from cure as the priority of care to symptom relief and comfort care. Although very little is published in the burn literature on palliative care, guidelines can be gleaned from the general literature on palliative care, particularly for acute surgical and critical care patients. Palliative care may be started because of futility, on request of the patient, or because of limited resources. The SPIKES acronym is a useful guide to avoid errors in communication with terminal patients and their relatives.
OBJECTIVE: Communication and patient-centred care are important determinants for timely initiation of palliative care. Therefore, we aimed to understand and explain the behaviour "starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer" from the perspective of people with incurable cancer.
METHODS: A qualitative study using semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 25 people with incurable cancer: 13 not (yet) receiving palliative care and 12 receiving palliative care; 4 started the conversation themselves. Determinants related to the defined behaviour were matched with concepts in existing behavioural theories.
RESULTS: Both positive and negative stances towards starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer were found. Influencing behavioural factors were identified, such as knowledge (e.g. about palliative care), attitude (e.g. association of palliative care with quality of life) and social influence (e.g. relationship with the professional carer). We modelled the determinants into a behavioural model.
CONCLUSION: The behavioural model developed helps to explain why people with incurable cancer do or do not start a conversation about palliative care with their professional carer. By targeting the modifiable determinants of the model, promising interventions can be developed to help patients taken the initiative in communication about palliative care with a professional carer.
BACKGROUND: Research on the patient experience of receiving palliative care across a number of settings is increasing, but the majority of these investigations are situated within the context of developed countries. There is limited research from resource-limited countries, especially with regard to patients with cancer who receive hospice care. The present study explored the lived experience of attending hospice care facilities in South Africa to develop a bottom-up understanding from the perspectives of patients themselves.
METHODS: A qualitative cross-sectional study was designed to examine how patients experienced receiving hospice care We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with thirteen, purposively selected patients living with terminal cancer and receiving in-patient or day care palliative services from a hospice organisation in South Africa. We used inductive thematic analysis to analyse the data.
RESULTS: We identified three themes that reflected a process of transformation that was experienced by participants during their engagement with the hospice services. The first theme describes participants' initial reluctance to be linked to the hospice as a result of the stereotypic perceptions of hospice as being associated with death and dying. The second theme presents the perceived positive impact on patients' physical and psychosocial wellbeing which resulted from the highly valued interactions with staff and other patients as well as patients' engagement with creative activities. The final theme delineates the transformation of hospice into a second 'family' and 'home' and the restoration of an identity that expands beyond the 'sick' role.
CONCLUSIONS: Receiving hospice care that sensitively attends to patients' psychosocial and physical needs helps people to re-create a sense of homeliness within the world, re-orient themselves toward a meaningful life and re-configure their relationship with self. Patient experience of receiving hospice care in South Africa does not appear dissimilar to that reported by patients in resource-rich countries, suggesting underlying commonalities. There is a need for raising awareness and educating the public about what palliative care can offer to those in need. Public health campaigns could help reduce the stigma attached to palliative care, deflect negative perceptions, and communicate the benefits for patients, families and communities in culturally sensitive ways.