Purpose: Social support is an important factor in reducing caregiver burden, however, accessing social support via traditional means is often challenging for family caregivers of hospice patients. Online support groups may offer an effective solution. The present study sought to understand dynamics of online social support among family and other informal (e.g., friends) caregivers of hospice cancer patients in an online social support group. The primary aim of the study was to identify types of online social support and support-seeking behaviors, with a secondary aim to understand informal hospice caregivers’ preferences for social support.
Method: Data used in this study were collected as part of a federally funded randomized clinical trial of an informal hospice cancer caregiver support intervention. Findings are based on directed and conventional content analysis of support group members' posts and comments—including text and images—and a sample of caregivers’ exit interviews.
Results: Analyses demonstrated that the majority of online support provided by group members was emotional support, followed by companionship support, appraisal support, and informational support. Instrumental support was rarely provided. Support was primarily elicited in an indirect manner through self-disclosure and patient updates, with few overt requests for support.
Conclusions: Findings suggest online social support groups can be a valuable resource for informal caregivers who are in need of emotional support and lack the ability to access face-to-face support groups. Clinical implications of this research to healthcare systems regarding the importance of incorporating nurses and other medical professionals as co-facilitators of online support groups are discussed.
BACKGROUND: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with an uncertain trajectory, which challenges prognostication and means that most patients are not involved in advance care planning and do not receive palliative and end-of-life care.
AIM: To understand the preferences of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for discussions about palliative and advance care planning with clinicians.
DESIGN: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Data analysis was guided by principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis, of which symbolic interactionism and interpretation principles were employed throughout.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 33 British patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at different stages of their disease trajectory were recruited.
RESULTS: Patients preferred to discuss palliative care with clinicians they perceived had greater levels of competency and authority in care and with whom they had an established relationship, usually a specialist. Patients favoured large amounts of information about treatments and care, but reported a lack of illness-related information and problems accessing appointments with clinicians. Consequently, patients deferred discussions to the future, usually once their condition had deteriorated significantly or planned to wait for clinicians to initiate conversations. This was not rooted in patient preferences, but related to clinicians' lack of time, absence of an established relationship and belief that appointments were for managing current symptoms, exacerbations and disease factors rather than future care and preferences.
CONCLUSION: Different perceptions, competing priorities and service rationing inhibit patients from initiating early discussions with clinicians, so palliative care conversations should be initiated by respiratory-expert clinicians who know the patient well. After a sudden deterioration in the patient's condition may be a suitable time.
The current study explores the end-of-life (EOL) preferences of a national representative sample of adults aged 55 and older in Switzerland and shows how these preferences vary by respondents' sociodemographic characteristics and the linguistic region in which they live. Many of the presented EOL attributes are considered as (very) important by a large majority of the older population in Switzerland with significant variations across sociodemographic groups. Specifically, gender is related to psychosocial aspects of EOL, age to the importance attached to avoiding being a burden on the society, and education levels to preferences regarding overtreatment and advance care planning. The results highlight the importance of a personalized, holistic and interdisciplinary approach to EOL and EOL care, since social, psychological, organizational and physical aspects of EOL are rated as (very) important with significant differences in EOL preferences across sociodemographic groups.
BACKGROUND: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-limiting disease that results in premature death mainly due to respiratory failure. Literature suggests that for many people with CF end-of-life wishes are discussed too late or not at all, with most dying in hospital. The aim of this project was to improve end-of-life care for adults with CF.
DESIGN: Three improvement cycles were carried out over a 2-year period in one of the largest adult CF centres in Europe. The first cycle involved implementing regular multidisciplinary team (MDT) debriefs after a patient death with increased education. The second cycle involved codesigning a CF-specific advance care plan (ACP) with patients, families, bereaved relatives and experts across the UK, then implementing this into our service. The final cycle was designing a CF-specific end of life, online course for clinicians. Success was measured by: use of ACP and whether patients had died in their preferred location, patient feedback via a survey and satisfaction with the online course using a postcourse report.
RESULTS: The number of patients given the opportunity to discuss their end of life wishes increased from 10% to 85%. The number of patients who died in their preferred location increased from 7% to 85% over the 2-year project time. Patient feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The key barrier has been changing MDT culture, overcoming this required the engagement of the whole team. The online course has been successful with 258 participants to date from 26 countries.
CONCLUSION: Education, staff support and a CF-specific ACP document empowered healthcare professionals to initiate difficult conversations to improve end-of-life care.
Dementia patients in the moderate-late stage of the disease can, and often do, express different preferences than they did at the onset of their condition. The received view in the philosophical literature argues that advance directives which prioritize the patient's preferences at onset ought to be given decisive moral weight in medical decision-making. Clinical practice, on the other hand, favors giving moral weight to the preferences expressed by dementia patients after onset. The purpose of this article is to show that the received view in the philosophical literature is inadequate and is out of touch with real clinical practice. I argue that having dementia is a cognitive transformative experience and that preference changes which result from this are legitimate and ought to be given moral weight in medical decision-making. This argument ought to encourage us to reduce our confidence in the moral weight of advance directives for dementia patients.
COVID-19 has highlighted the reality of an impending serious illness for many, particularly for older persons. Those faced with severe COVID-19 infection or other serious illness will be faced with decisions regarding admission to intensive care and use of mechanical ventilation. Past research has documented substantial medical errors regarding the use or non-use of life-sustaining treatments in older persons. While some experts advocate that advance care planning may be a solution to the problem, I argue that the prevailing understanding and current practice of advance care planning perpetuates the problem and results in patients not receiving optimal patient-centered care. Much of the problem centers on the framing of advance care planning around end of life care, the lack of use of decision support tools, and inadequate language that does not support shared decision-making. I posit that a new approach and new terminology is needed. Advance Serious Illness Preparations and Planning (ASIPP) consists of discrete steps using evidence-based tools to prepare people for future clinical decision-making in the context of shared decision-making and informed consent. Existing tools to support this approach have been developed and validated. Further dissemination of these tools is warranted.
Shared decision-making in cancer care, where we move away from the paternalistic "the doctor knows best" attitude to involving the patient in decisions regarding her or his health, is now universally accepted in western societies. However, in many situations this is easier said than done. For instance, if the interaction with the patient is not performed in a skillful manner, shared decision-making can make the patient feel unsafe - shouldn't the specialist know how to treat a serious disease such as cancer? Why would the doctor ask the patient about this? In other cases, what the patient wants in unrealistic, for example a severely frail patient aged 85 years with more than one life-limiting comorbidity who is diagnosed with an advanced cancer and has a goal of living to be at least 100 years. And what does a patient with advanced dementia want in the context of a cancer disease? In this perspectives piece, we will describe different scenarios that may arise within geriatric oncology and shared decision-making, make recommendations about how to handle such situations, and provide some food for thought.
Background: To provide a better quality of death for patients at the end of life who choose to die at home and their families, the hospice care team at Taipei Veterans General Hospital has promoted an personalized discharged end-of-life care plan since the initial of 2018.
Methods: This study is a retrospective analysis of administrative data. All incoming calls of the 24-hour specialist palliative care emergency telephone advice service records were analyzed. Personal information of any callers or consultants was not registered in the content.
Results: A total of 728 telephone consultations was registered during the study period. The content of the consultation of different callers was significantly different (p < 0.001). The decrease in the number of calls from the patients who were discharged from the hospice ward had the largest reduction in proportion, from 80 (19.0%) to 32 (10.5%), There was a significant difference in the identity of the callers between 2017 and 2018 (p = 0.025). The proportion of consultation calls for the management of near-death symptoms significantly reduced from 15.6% to 10.5% (p = 0.027).
Conclusions: Though the evidence from this study is not enough to support that the personalized discharged end-of-life care plan might reduce the frequency of dialing 24-hour hotlines by the family members of discharged terminally ill patients. For patients who choose to die at home and their families, the hotlines provide a 24-hour humane support. Thus, we need to conduct relevant research to determine whether the service of this dedicated line meets the needs of patients and their families in the terminal stage.
BACKGROUND: Failure to deliver care near the end of life that reflects the needs, values and preferences of patients with advanced cancer remains a major shortcoming of our cancer care delivery system.
METHODS: A mixed-methods comparative effectiveness trial of in-person advance care planning (ACP) discussions versus web-based ACP is currently underway at oncology practices in Western Pennsylvania. Patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers are invited to enroll. Participants are randomized to either (1) in-person ACP discussions via face-to-face visits with a nurse facilitator following the Respecting Choices® Conversation Guide or (2) web-based ACP using the PREPARE for your care™ web-based ACP tool. The trial compares the effect of these two interventions on patient and family caregiver outcomes (engagement in ACP, primary outcome; ACP discussions; advance directive (AD) completion; quality of end-of-life (EOL) care; EOL goal attainment; caregiver psychological symptoms; healthcare utilization at EOL) and assesses implementation costs. Factors influencing ACP effectiveness are assessed via in-depth interviews with patients, caregivers and clinicians.
DISCUSSION: This trial will provide new and much-needed empirical evidence about two patient-facing ACP approaches that successfully overcome limitations of traditional written advance directives but entail very different investments of time and resources. It is innovative in using mixed methods to evaluate not only the comparative effectiveness of these approaches, but also the contexts and mechanisms influencing effectiveness. Data from this study will inform clinicians, payers and health systems seeking to adopt and scale the most effective and efficient ACP strategy in real-world oncology settings.
BACKGROUND: Increasing age is accompanied by a greater need for medical decisions, due in part to age-related increases in chronic disease and disability. In later life, medical decisions about end-of-life care in particular are likely. However, a significant percentage of these decisions are made by surrogate decision-makers. "Surrogates" are most often instructed to use the substituted judgment standard and make decisions that patients would choose if they were able. Whether surrogates make decisions that adequately match patients' preferences is a concern. Surrogates are generally poor predictors of patient preferences (Shalowitz et al., 2006). However, no critical review of this literature has yet been published.
METHOD: A critical review was conducted to summarise and provide a methodological critique of 25 studies.
RESULTS: These studies generally concur that patient-surrogate agreement on medical decisions is poor. However, this conclusion is qualified by inconsistencies in methodological quality and the potentially limited generalisability of these findings.
CONCLUSIONS: Clinical research incorporating standardised hypothetical decision-making protocols, as well as triangulated data collection methods, would bolster confidence in future findings. Investigations prioritising the surrogate decision-making process, rather than solely the decisional outcome, could better identify ways to improve the decision-making process for incapacitated patients.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this scoping review is to explore the empirical evidence on the range of treatment decisions made by adult Muslims at the end of life.
INTRODUCTION: Relief of pain and suffering is a human right; however, ethnic, racial, and religious minorities do not receive optimum end-of-life care. Several factors have been identified as impacting on the decision-making of minority populations. These patients have been found to access palliative care to a lesser degree, receive inadequate pain management, prefer aggressive care, and die in a place other than their place of preference. Muslims remain an under-represented community in end-of-life studies, with little known about their care preferences and decisions in their final stage of life.
INCLUSION CRITERIA: This review will include studies whose participants are adults (= 18 years) facing end-of-life decision-making who identify as Muslim while residing in a non-Muslim-majority country. The participants may be healthy volunteers with a view on the subject, or patients and their caregivers facing end-of-life decision-making. Quantitative and qualitative studies will be included, with the exclusion of theoretical and opinion-based articles.
METHODS: The three-step search strategy for the proposed scoping review will follow JBI methodology. Databases to be searched include MEDLINE via OvidSP, PsycINFO via OvidSP, Embase via OvidSP, Scopus (Elsevier), CINAHL via EBSCO, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global. Studies in English published since database inception will be considered. The results will be extracted and charted by two independent reviewers. Data will be presented in tabular form and a narrative summary provided.
Background: To understand the status of residents’ awareness of and demand for hospice care services in Hangzhou and to provide a reference for promoting the formulation of hospice care-related policies in China.
Methods: A small cross-sectional survey of 519 adults aged over 40 years old living in the rural-urban fringe and urban area of Xihu District, Hangzhou City, was conducted using convenience sampling and a self-designed questionnaire. The measures assessed awareness of hospice care (13-item scale), attitudes towards life support therapy (3-item scale), and demand for hospice care services (9-item scale).
Results: The rate of awareness of hospice care among community residents was 50.30%. A total of 51.0% of residents wanted only comfortable life-sustaining treatment at the end of their lives. The acceptance of hospice care was positively correlated with the degree of understanding (x2 = 18.382, P = 0.001), and residents in the urban area were more likely to prefer hospice care than residents in the urban-rural fringe (x2 = 7.186, P = 0.028). Elderly residents showed a stronger tendency to prefer comfortable life support therapy (x2 = 12.988, P < 0.001). A total of 83.04% of the residents accepted the current necessity for hospice care to be provided in medical institutions. The preferred locations were professional hospice care institutions or general hospitals. A total of 93.64% of the residents agreed that the number of beds in hospice care wards should not exceed 2. In addition, the residents could afford part of the out-of-pocket expenses for hospice care services, with the ability to pay under 200 yuan per day, and the improvement of facilities was expected.
Conclusions: To improve public awareness and acceptance of hospice care and promote healthy development in China, it is necessary to promote hospice care education for everyone.
BACKGROUND: In 2019, the Patient Autonomy Act went into effect, allowing Taiwanese citizens to establish legal advance decisions. In an effort to secure a more realistic and accurate perception of situations, a virtual reality video was developed by the palliative care team of Chi-Mei hospital in southern Taiwan for citizens to use before advance care planning. This study explores the change in participants' preference and certainty regarding end-of-life decisions after using this tool.
METHODS: Participants were at least 20 years old and capable of reading and understanding the information provided in the written handout with information about the legal process of making an advance decision. They completed pre-test questionnaires, viewed a six-minute 360-degree virtual reality video on a portable headset, and then completed a post-test questionnaire about their preference on the five medical options-CPR, life-sustaining treatments, antibiotics, blood transfusion, and artificial nutrition and hydration-followed by feedback on the helpfulness of the virtual reality. The control group included 40 participants who only read the handout and completed pre-test and post-test questionnaires.
RESULTS: After viewing the virtual reality video, preference for not using CPR, life-sustaining treatment, antibiotics, blood transfusion, and artificial nutrition and hydration increased significantly in the virtual reality intervention group. Uncertainty regarding the five medical options mentioned above significantly decreased. The intervention was generally recognized by participants for its help in making decisions.
DISCUSSION: The decrease in the number of participants who could not make decisions indicates that the virtual reality video may be helpful for users in making end-of-life decision. According to feedback, the virtual reality video helped equip users with better understanding of medical scenarios, and that it is a good decision tool for advance care planning.
CONCLUSION: This is the first study since the Patient Autonomy Act has been passed that explores the effectiveness of using a virtual reality video as a decision tool in advance care planning and reveals decreased preference of CPR, life sustaining treatment, antibiotics, blood transfusion, and artificial nutrition and hydration after intervention. This decision aid proved to be an effective tool for clarifying their end-of-life care preferences.
Fewer than one-third of US residents have completed an advance directive (AD) to guide care when seriously ill. Clinician-focused efforts to increase AD completion, such as Medicare payments for advance care planning (ACP), have been ineffective. In contrast, patient-facing interventions that enable independent completion of ADs show early promise. Self-service platforms also reveal changes in demand for ADs and preferences for future care. We sought to quantify changes in patient completion of ADs and expressed preferences during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic by monitoring users of a web-based AD platform from January 2019 to April 2020.
BACKGROUND: Care for people with progressive illness should be person-centred and account for their cultural values and spiritual beliefs. There are an estimated 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide, largely living in low-and middle-income countries.
AIMS: This study aimed to identify, appraise, and integrate the evidence for the experiences and preferences of Muslim patients/families for end-of-life care in Muslim-majority countries
DESIGN: Systematic review DATA SOURCES: PsychoINFO, MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health, CINAHL, Cochrane Library and Registry of Clinical Trials Trial, Pubmed, ASSIA, Social Services Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, Social Policy & Practice, and Scopus were searched until December 2018. Handsearching was performed, and grey literature, included. Qualitative studies analysed using thematic analysis and quantitative component provided triangulation.
RESULTS: The initial search yielded n=5,098 papers, of which n=30 met the inclusion criteria. A total of 5,342 participants (4,345 patients, 81.3%) were included; 97.6% had advanced cancer. The majority (n = 22) of studies were quantitative. Three themes and sub-themes from qualitative studies were identified using thematic analysis: selflessness (burden to others and caregiver responsibilities), ambivalence (hope and hopelessness) and strong beliefs in Islam (beliefs in death and afterlife, closeness to Allah). Qualitative studies reported triangulation; demonstrating conflicts in diagnosis disclosure and total pain burden experienced by both patients and families.
CONCLUSION: Despite the scarce evidence of relatively low quality, the analysis revealed core themes. To achieve palliative care for all in line with the 'total pain' model, beliefs must be identified and understood in relation to decision-making processes and practices.
BACKGROUND: Hispanics often have disparities at the end of life. They are more likely to die full code and less likely to have discussions regarding prognosis and do not resuscitate (DNR)/do not intubate (DNI), despite studies showing Hispanic values comfort over the extension of life. Barriers to patient-centered care include language,socioeconomic status and health literacy.
CONTEXT: We evaluated the impact of palliative care (PC) consults on the change of code status and hospice referrals, comparing seriously ill Hispanic and non-Hispanic white patients.
METHOD: A retrospective cohort study of all white and Hispanic patients referred to the PC service of a county hospital from 2006 to 2012. We evaluated ethnicity, language, code status at admission and after PC consult, and hospice discharge. Chi-squared tests were used to analyze characteristics among three groups: non-Hispanic white, English-speaking Hispanic, and Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients.
RESULTS: Of 925 patients, 511 (55%) were non-Hispanic white, 208 (23%) were English-speaking Hispanic, and 206 (22%) were Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients. On admission, there was no statistically significant difference in code status among the three groups (57%, 64%, and 59% were full code, respectively, p = 0.5). After PC consults, Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were more likely to change their code status to DNR/DNI when compared with non-Hispanic white and English-speaking Hispanic patients (44% vs. 32% vs. 28%, p = 0.05). Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were more likely to be discharged to hospice when compared with English-speaking Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites (33%, 29%, and 23%, respectively, p = 0.04).
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Spanish-speaking Hispanic patients were more likely to change from full code to DNR/DNI compared with non-Hispanic white and English-speaking Hispanic patients, despite similar code status preferences on admission. They were also more likely to be discharged to hospice. PC consults may play an important role in helping patients to align their care with their values and may prevent unwanted aggressive interventions at the end of life.
Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, but traditionally it has not been considered a terminal or life-limiting condition. As a result, little significance may be placed on advance care planning (ACP) for people with dementia. Evidence suggests that most patients with advanced dementia have often not been given an opportunity to complete an advance care plan and have not had conversations with their families about their wishes and preferences at the end of life. This article reports on a literature review that aimed to explore the evidence on the introduction of ACP in achieving preferred place of care or death for people living with dementia, and reducing carer burden. The literature review found that ACP discussions have several benefits for people with dementia and their family carers, but that various factors can support or hinder such discussions. It concludes that these people and their families need to plan for end of life and suggests that ACP can increase the likelihood of achieving their preferred place of care and death and reducing decisional burden for carers.