Background: The opioid epidemic has spurred investigations for nonopioid options, yet limited research persists on medical marijuana's (MMJ) efficacy in managing cancer-related symptoms.
Objective: We sought to characterize MMJ's role on symptomatic relief and opioid consumption in the oncologic population.
Design: Retrospective chart review of MMJ-certified oncology patients was performed. Divided patients into MMJ use [MMJ(+)] versus no use [MMJ(-)], and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS)-reported pain cohorts: “mild-moderate” versus “severe.”
Measurements: Medical records were reviewed for ESAS, to measure physical and emotional symptoms, and opiate consumption, converted into morphine milligram equivalents (MME). Minimal clinically important differences were determined. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests determined statistical significance between MMJ-certification and most recent palliative care visit.
Results: Identified 232 patients [95/232 MMJ(-); 137/232 MMJ(+)]. Pain, physical and total ESAS significantly improved for total MMJ(-) and MMJ(+); however, only MMJ(+) significantly improved emotional ESAS. MMJ(-) opioid consumption increased by 23% (97.5–120 mg/day MME, p = 0.004), while it remained constant (45–45 mg/day MME, p = 0.522) in MMJ(+). Physical and total ESAS improved in mild-moderate-MMJ(-) and MMJ(+). Pain and emotional symptoms worsened in MMJ(-); while MMJ(+)'s pain remained unchanged and emotional symptoms improved. MMJ(-) opioid consumption increased by 29% (90–126 mg/day MME, p = 0.012); while MMJ(+)'s decreased by 33% (45–30 mg/day MME, p = 0.935). Pain, physical, emotional, and total ESAS scores improved in severe-MMJ(-) and MMJ(+); opioid consumption reduced by 22% in MMJ(-) (135–106 mg/day MME, p = 0.124) and 33% in MMJ(+) (90–60 mg/day MME, p = 0.421).
Conclusions: MMJ(+) improved oncology patients' ESAS scores despite opioid dose reductions and should be considered a viable adjuvant therapy for palliative management.
Context: Early integration of palliative care (PC) into adult oncology practice has been shown to improve quality of life and health care utilization; however, little is known about PC in young adults with cancer.
Objectives: Our primary objective was to determine rates and timing of PC consultation in young adult patients with advanced solid tumor cancer at a single institution.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of young adults of age 18–39 years with advanced solid tumor malignancy at an urban academic medical center between June 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.
Results: Of 129 patients identified, 70 of 129 (54%) had a PC consult and 34 of 70 were inpatient-only consults. PC consults occurred for a median of 104 days before death, and for those with inpatient-only consults, PC consults occurred for a median of 18 days. Patients with worse recent Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status were more likely to have had a PC consult (p < 0.001). Of the patients who died during the study period, patients with PC consults were more likely to have been hospitalized (72% vs. 47%), in the intensive care unit (21% vs. 0%), in the emergency room (ER) (72% vs. 47%), and have received chemotherapy (17% vs. 0%) within 30 days of death compared with those who did not have a consult; however, these differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusion: In this analysis, over half of young adults with advanced solid tumors received PC consults. PC consult typically occurred for one year after diagnosis and about three months before death. Additional research is needed to identify how to better integrate PC early in this patient population and assess the resulting impact.
En 2006, à la suite de la circulaire DHOS 2005/101, nous avons créé une réunion multidisciplinaire de soins de support. Il existe très peu de données dans la littérature dans ce domaine et nous avons souhaité reporter ici notre expérience. Pour cela, les dossiers présentés sur les six premiers mois de l’année 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 et 2018 ont été analysés, soit 405 situations correspondant à 352 patients. La majorité était constituée de femmes (55,7 %, n = 196) et l’âge médian lors de la présentation était de 66 ans [20–93]. Dans 8 % (n = 32) des situations, la prise en charge était curative, dans 58 % (n = 233) des cas, palliative avec traitement spécifique en cours, dans 31,3 % (n = 126) palliative exclusive et enfin 2,7 % (n = 11) des discussions concernaient l’après cancer. Le nombre médian de participants était de 10 avec une présence régulière des oncologues, de l’équipe de soins palliatifs, de l’assistante sociale, la diététicienne, la kinésithérapeute et la psychologue. Les deux motifs les plus fréquents de présentation étaient le devenir et une demande d’intervention de l’équipe mobile de soins palliatifs. La décision de la réunion était relativement bien appliquée avec un taux de conformité de 81,8 %. Cependant, on peut regretter le délai court de 1,5 mois entre le décès et la concertation. La création d’un département transversal de soins de support a fait prendre de l’ampleur à cette réunion et il serait pertinent dans un avenir proche de vérifier si elle permet une meilleure anticipation.
OBJECTIVE: Integrated palliative care for populations with cancer is now highly recommended. However, numerous physicians working in cancer care are still reluctant to refer patients to specialist palliative care teams. This study explores their perceptions of palliative care and factors influencing reasons to refer to specialist palliative care.
METHODS: We used a qualitative methodology based on semistructured interviews with physicians working in cancer care, in two tertiary hospitals and one comprehensive cancer centre with access to a specialist palliative care team. Forty-six physicians were invited and 18 interviews were performed until data saturation. Participants were mainly men, licensed in cancer care, 37.9 years old on average and had 13 years of professional experience. The length of interviews was on average 34 min (SD=3). Analysis was performed accordingly with the thematic analysis.
RESULTS: The data analysis found four themes: symptom management as a trigger, psychosocial support, mediation provided by interventions, and the association with terminal care or death. Palliative care integrated interventions were mainly perceived as holistic approaches that offered symptom management expertise and time. They were valued for helping in consolidating decision-making from a different or external perspective, or an 'outside look'. Several barriers were identified, often due to the confusion between terminal care and palliative care. This was further highlighted by the avoidance of the words 'palliative care', which were associated with death.
CONCLUSIONS: National policies for promoting palliative care seemed to have failed in switching oncologists' perception of palliative care, which they still consider as terminal care.
Introduction: Palliative care is an important aspect of gynaecological oncology practice. In order to successfully integrate end-of-life (EOL) care in the disease trajectory, it is crucial to incorporate systematic training in subspecialty programmes in gynaecological oncology. We aimed to evaluate the quality of training in palliative care across gynaecological oncology fellows in Europe and to provide a framework to facilitate learning opportunities.
Methods: A web-based questionnaire was sent to members of the European Network of Young Gynae-Oncologists (ENYGO). The survey consisted of 36 items covering six domains: respondents’ characteristics, quality and quantity of teaching, curriculum achievements, observation and feedback, EOL clinical practice and attitudes about palliative care.
Results: Of the 703 clinicians enrolled in the study, 142 responded (20.2%). Although the majority worked in university hospitals, only half of them (47%) were in a formal subspecialty programme. The majority of respondents (60%) were trained without a mandatory rotation in palliative care units and considered the quality of EOL care teaching as ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’ (57.7%). The majority of respondents (71.6%) did not receive any supervision or feedback at the time of their first consultation on changing the goals of care.
Conclusion: Our study underlines lack of structured teaching and supervision in palliative care contents among European fellows in gynaecological oncology. Broad education of healthcare providers is a key factor to achieve the integration of palliative care in gynaecological oncology practice. Stakeholders like European Society of Gynaecological Oncology/ENYGO play an important role to facilitate educational activities and training programmes targeting to EOL care.
Background: Ongoing assessment of psychological reaction to illness in palliative and end of life care settings is recommended, yet validated tools are not routinely used in clinical practice. The Distress Thermometer is a short screening tool developed for use in oncology, to detect individuals who would benefit from further psychological assessment. However the optimal cut-off to detect indicative psychological morbidity in patients with advanced cancer receiving specialist palliative care is unclear.
Aim: To provide the first validation of the Distress Thermometer in an advanced cancer population receiving specialist palliative care in a UK hospice setting.
Design: Receiver Operating Characteristics analysis was used to compare the sensitivity and specificity of cut-offs indicative of psychological morbidity on the Distress Thermometer in comparison to the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Setting/Participants: Data were derived from 202 patients with advanced cancer who were approached on admission to inpatient or day hospice care, with 139 patients providing complete data on both measures.
Results: The area under the curve was optimal using a Distress Thermometer cut-off score of >=6 for total distress and for anxiety, and a cut-off score of >=4 optimal when screening for depression.
Conclusions: The Distress Thermometer is a valid, accurate screening tool to be used in advanced cancer but with caution in relation to the lack of specificity. With little variation between the area under the curve scores, arguably a Distress Thermometer cut-off score of >=5 is most appropriate in screening for all types of psychological morbidity if sensitivity is to be prioritised.
The aim of supportive cancer care is to actively manage patients' physical, psychologic, and spiritual concerns, independent of prognosis. Complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) is increasingly gaining greater acceptance and support for its beneficial value in supportive cancer care. The utilization of CIM early in the cancer trajectory, during treatment and during survivorship periods, as well as during end of life, addresses a great number of unmet needs that patients affected by cancer raise. In addition, recent research supports the role that CIM has in reducing suffering and distress both physically and emotionally, as well as enhancing well-being in patients affected by cancer and their families. CIM is increasingly seen not only as an adjunctive add-on treatment or perhaps even as a luxury item for the affluent but actually as an important component in supportive cancer care for all patients. It addresses many aspects of care that sometimes are not being addressed with conventional means. With the increase in CIM-related research, as well as the increased clinical experience in oncology programs worldwide, CIM is gradually becoming an essential ingredient in supportive and palliative cancer care. In this narrative review, the authors look systematically at the contribution that CIM has in supportive care in each stage of the cancer trajectory, reflecting the needed role that CIM has in supportive care. The presented data will provide a sampling of the available clinical research for each of the broad stages being described.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: Integration of specialist palliative care into routine oncologic care improves patients' quality of life and survival. NCCN cancer treatment guidelines are instrumental in standardizing cancer care; yet, it is unclear how palliative and hospice care are integrated in these guidelines. In this study, we examined the frequency of occurrence of "palliative care" and "hospice care" in NCCN guidelines and compared between solid tumor and hematologic malignancy guidelines.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We reviewed all 53 updated NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer. We documented the frequency of occurrence of "palliative care" and "hospice care", the definitions for these terms if available, and the recommended timing for these services.
RESULTS: We identified a total of 37 solid tumor and 16 hematologic malignancy guidelines. Palliative care was mentioned in 30 (57%) guidelines (24 solid tumor, 6 hematologic). "Palliative care" was mentioned more frequently in solid tumor than hematologic guidelines (median 2 vs. 0, P=0.04). Among the guidelines that included palliative care in the treatment recommendation, 25 (83%) only referred to NCCN palliative care guideline. Specialist palliative care referral was specifically mentioned in 5/30 (17%) guidelines. Only 14/24 (58%) solid tumor guidelines and 2/6 (33%) hematologic guidelines recommended palliative care in the front line setting for advanced malignancy. Few guidelines (N=3/53, 6%) mentioned hospice care.
CONCLUSION: "Palliative care" was absent in almost half of NCCN cancer treatment guidelines and was rarely discussed in guidelines for hematologic malignancies. Our findings underscored opportunities to standardize timely palliative care access across NCCN guidelines.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Integration of specialist palliative care into routine oncologic care is associated with improved patient outcomes. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology have an important role to standardize palliative care involvement for cancer patients. It is unclear how often palliative care referral is recommended in these guidelines. In this study involving 53 NCCN Guidelines for Treatment of Cancer, the researchers found that palliative care was not mentioned in over 40% of NCCN guidelines and was rarely discussed in guidelines for hematologic malignancies. These findings underscored opportunities to standardize timely palliative care access across NCCN guidelines.
CONTEXT: Due to the need for isolation of inpatients with suspected COVID-19, accuracy in identifying these cases in Emergency Department (ED) has great relevance, especially in Palliative Oncology Care Unit (PCU).
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficiency of clinical criteria adopted to identify suspected cases of COVID-19 by the ED in PCU.
METHODS: All patients admitted to PCU between April and June 2020 from ED were included. The clinical criteria adopted to identify suspected COVID-19 cases were: being in contact with a suspected or confirmed case less than 14 days ago and / or presenting fever with no defined focus and / or respiratory symptoms not explained by oncological disease and / or suggestive image in radiological examination (if necessary). All suspected cases were submitted to deep nasal and throat swab for SARS COV-2 investigation by Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction Test, adopted as gold standard. Inpatients hospitalized by ED, without suspicion, and then diagnosed with COVID-19 within 10 days of hospitalization were considered as false-negative cases.
RESULTS: During the period, 327 patients were admitted from ED. Of these, 69 (21%) were considered suspects, of whom 34 (49%) tested positive for COVID-19. The sensitivity of the clinical criterion to identify suspected cases was 87%, specificity was 88%, positive predictive value was 49%, negative was 98% and accuracy was 88%.
CONCLUSION: The clinical criteria adopted to identify suspected cases of COVID-19 at ED proved to be efficient, with low risk of spreading in-hospital infection, avoiding unnecessary isolation of patients.
CONTEXT: Early palliative care (PC) has been shown to improve the quality of life of children with cancer, yet referral practices by pediatric oncology providers remains inconsistent and few patients receive a formal PC consult.
OBJECTIVES: We sought to describe patient characteristics used by oncologists for PC referral and identify ways to improve PC integration into the care for children with cancer.
METHODS: This mixed-methods study used semi-structured audiotaped interviews to explore the patient or disease characteristics used by pediatric oncology providers to trigger PC referral. Conventional content analysis was applied to interview transcripts.
RESULTS: 77 participants with diverse experience were interviewed. Over 75% of participants reported that PC was consulted "too late" and cited communication and systems issues as the top barriers. A majority of participants (85%) stated that a screening tool would be helpful to standardize referral practices to PC. Characteristics such as poor prognosis (88%), symptom management (86%), comorbidities (65%), and psychosocial needs (65%) were commonly reported triggers that should initiate PC consultation. However, when presented with case scenarios that included these characteristics, participants did not consistently identify the PC triggers. Nearly 50% of participants stated they had received some formalized PC training, however only one third of these participants noted completing a PC rotation.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that pediatric oncologists are committed to improving the integration of PC for their patients and that standardization of referral practices, through the use of a screening tool, would be of benefit. Additional PC education might reinforce pediatric oncologists' recognition of palliative care triggers.
BACKGROUND: Pediatric patients with sarcomas experience significant morbidity and compromised quality of life throughout their course. These times could be viewed as opportunities for increased subspecialty palliative care (PC). Systematically defining opportunities for additional PC support has not occurred in pediatric oncology. The frequency, timing, and associated factors for palliative opportunities in pediatric patients with sarcomas are unknown.
METHODS: A priori, nine palliative opportunities were defined (disease progression or relapse, admission for symptoms, social concerns or end-of-life, intensive care or bone marrow transplant admission, phase 1 trial or hospice enrollment, do-not-resuscitate status). A single-center retrospective review was conducted on patients aged 0-18 years with bone/soft tissue sarcomas who died from January 1, 2012 to November 30, 2017. Demographic, disease, and treatment data were collected. Descriptive statistics were performed. Opportunities were evaluated over quartiles from diagnosis to death.
RESULTS: Patients (n = 60) had a mean of nine (SD = 4) palliative opportunities with the majority occurring in the last quartile of the disease course. Number and type of opportunities did not differ by demographics or diagnosis. Eighteen patients (30%) received PC consultation a median of 2.2 months (interquartile range [IQR] 11.5) prior to death. Consultation was unrelated to diagnosis or total opportunities.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with sarcomas incur repeated events warranting subspecialty PC, which increase toward the end-of-life. Increased PC utilization may help decrease suffering and bolster family coping during these episodes. Additional work should further refine if opportunities differ across cancers, and how to incorporate this framework into clinical oncology care to prevent missed opportunities for PC.
Background: Nearly 3 million U.S. family caregivers support someone with cancer. However, oncology clinic-based service lines that proactively screen, assess, and support cancer caregivers are nearly nonexistent.
Objective: To examine first-year experiences of a nurse-led clinic-based telehealth support service (FamilyStrong) for family caregivers of patients with recently diagnosed grade IV brain tumors.
Methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of operational outcomes from initial implementation of the FamilyStrong Service, developed in partnership with Caregiver and Bereavement Support Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. From August 2018 to December 2019, 53 family caregivers were proactively identified and enrolled by a palliative care nurse, working approximately one day/week, who performed monthly caregiver distress thermometer screenings by phone and provided emotional, educational, problem-solving, and referral support.
Results: Enrolled family caregivers were a mean age of 53.5 years and mostly female (62.3%), full- or part-time employed (67.9%), and the patient's spouse/partner (79.3%). Caregivers provided support 6.7 days/week for 11.2 hours/day. The palliative care nurse performed 235 distress screenings and provided support that included 68 documented instances of emotional, problem-solving, and educational support, 41 nurse-facilitated communications with the neuro-oncology team about patient issues, and 24 referrals to UAB and community services (e.g., counseling). The most common problems caregivers wanted assistance with included: managing their relative's health condition and symptoms (51%), coordinating care/services (21%), and planning for the future/advance care planning (17%).
Discussion: The FamilyStrong Program is among the first "real world" oncology clinic-based formal support services for advance cancer family caregivers.
BACKGROUND: In cancer care, do not resuscitate (DNR) orders are common in the terminal phase of the illness, which implies that the responsible physician in advance decides that in case of a cardiac arrest neither basic nor advanced Coronary Pulmonary Rescue should be performed. Swedish regulations prescribe that DNR decisions should be made by the responsible physician, preferably in co-operation with members of the team. If possible, the patient should consent, and significant others should be informed of the decision. Previous studies have shown that physicians and nurses can experience ethical dilemmas in relation to DNR decisions, but knowledge about what ethical reasoning they perform is lacking. Therefore, the aim was to describe and explore what ethical reasoning physicians and nurses apply in relation to DNR-decisions in oncology and hematology care.
METHODS: A qualitative, descriptive and explorative design was used, based on 287 free-text comments in a study-specific questionnaire, answered by 216 physicians and nurses working in 16 oncology and hematology wards in Sweden. Comments were given by 89 participants.
RESULTS: The participants applied a situation-based ethical reasoning in relation to DNR-decisions. The reasons given for this were both deontological and utilitarian in kind. Also, expressions of care ethics were found in the material. Universal rules or guidelines were seen as problematic. Concerning the importance of the subject, nurses to a higher extent underlined the importance of discussing DNR-situations, while physicians described DNR-decisions as over-investigated and not such a big issue in their daily work.
CONCLUSION: The study revealed that DNR-decisions in oncology and hematology care gave rise to ethical considerations. Important ethical values described by the participants were to avoid doing harm and to secure a peaceful and "natural" death with dignity for their dying patients. A preference for the expression "allow for natural death" instead of the traditional term "do not resuscitate" was found in the material.
Delivering optimal end-of-life (EOL) care to children and adolescents is a healthcare priority, yet relatively little is known about what patients, families, and healthcare providers (HCPs) consider “best” practices. The objective of this study was to identify factors that pediatric oncology HCPs consider important for EOL care. This was a cross-sectional mixed methods study. Participants were multidisciplinary pediatric oncology staff who completed surveys and participated in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Interviews were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. Provider statements were compared based on years of experience (=10 or >10 years) and discipline (non-physician or physician). A total of n = 19 staff (74% female) enrolled, including physicians (n = 8), advanced practice providers (n = 4), nurses (n = 2), music/art therapists (n = 2), physical therapists (n = 1), educators (n = 1), and chaplains (n = 1). Most HCPs identified communication, symptom control, and acceptance as features of a “good” death. Compared to physicians, non-physicians focused on relationships (67% vs. 33%, p = 0.007); HCPs with =10 years of experience (n = 11) more frequently identified the benefits of a multidisciplinary team (74% vs. 26%, p = 0.004). This study identified many common HCP-defined components of “good” pediatric EOL care in addition to some differing perspectives depending on discipline and experience. Incorporating diverse HCP perspectives with those of the patient and family can guide contemporary high-quality pediatric EOL clinical care and education
Background: Most pediatric palliative care (PPC) services are inpatient consultation services and do not reach patients and families in the outpatient and home settings, where a vast majority of oncology care occurs. We explored whether an embedded pediatric palliative oncology (PPO) clinic is associated with receipt and timing of PPC and hospital days in the last 90 days of life.
Methods: Oncology patients (ages 0–25) with a high-risk event (death, relapse/progression, and/or phase I/II clinical trial enrollment) between 07/01/2015 and 06/30/2018 were included. PPO clinic started July 2017. Two cohorts were defined: pre-PPO (high-risk event(s) occurring 07/01/2015–06/30/2017) and post-PPO (high-risk event(s) occurring 07/01/2017–06/30/2018). Descriptive statistics were performed; demographic, disease course, and outcomes variables across cohorts were compared.
Results: A total of 426 patients were included (pre-PPO n = 235; post-PPO n = 191). Forty-seven patients with events in both pre- and post-PPO cohorts were included in the post-PPO cohort. Mean age at diagnosis was 8 years. Diagnoses were evenly distributed among solid tumors, brain tumors, and leukemia/lymphoma. Post-PPO cohort patients received PPC more often (45.6% vs. 21.3%, p < 0.0001), for a longer time before death than the pre-PPO cohort (median 88 vs. 32 days, p = 0.027), and spent fewer days hospitalized in the last 90 days of life (median 3 vs. 8 days, p = 0.0084).
Conclusion: A limited-day, embedded PPO clinic was associated with receipt of PPC and spending more time at home in patients with cancer who had high-risk events. Continued improvements to these outcomes would be expected with additional oncology provider education and PPO personnel.
BACKGROUND: Early palliative care referral for patients with advanced cancer has demonstrable benefits but is underutilized. We sought to characterize medical oncologists' perceptions about palliative care referral in their clinical practices.
METHODS: We conducted 4 focus groups with a national sample of medical oncologists to elicit perspectives about the optimal timing of and barriers to palliative care referral for patients with cancer. We used qualitative content analysis to uncover themes related to early integration of palliative care into standard oncologic practice.
RESULTS: Study participants readily acknowledged the evidence supporting early palliative care referral. However, medical oncologists identified patient-centered and physician-centered barriers to widespread adoption of early palliative care. Patient-centered barriers included patients' and families' perceptions or misperceptions of the role of palliative care. Additionally, physicians themselves described acting as a barrier to palliative care referral because they were concerned that palliative care physicians may interfere with the plan of care, or offer options that were not endorsed by the medical oncologist. Medical oncologists depicted themselves having authority over the timing of palliative care referral, and as granting limited autonomy to other clinical team members in counseling patients about advanced care planning.
CONCLUSIONS: Medical oncologists are hesitant to adopt the practice of early palliative care referral because they are concerned that other physicians may disrupt a patient's treatment plan. Physician-centered barriers may delay integration of palliative care, and future efforts to promote a collaborative approach to advanced care planning may improve patient-centered outcomes through access to early palliative care.
Background: Home death is considered to be a marker of good death. Little is known about the place of death and its determinants in patients with cancer in Jordan.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of regularly collected data of cancer patients who had a palliative care consultation at King Hussein Cancer Center and died between 2011 and 2012. Variables analyzed were related to the patient, disease, and palliative care services. Patient-related factors included age at death, gender, place of residence, and code status; disease-related variables were cancer type (solid vs hematological), major primary site, and time from cancer diagnosis to death; palliative care service–related variables included time of consultation for palliative care services to death, location of first palliative encounter (outpatient clinic vs hospital floor), multidisciplinary palliative home care teams involvement, and the number of home care visits before death. We examined the association between each variable and place of death using Pearson’s chi-square and the Mann-Whitney tests. Factors with statistical significance of P value < 0.1 were entered into multivariate logistic regression model.
Results: Among 630 patients, 80 (12.7%) died at home. Univariate analysis showed the following to be significantly associated with dying at home: male gender, age more than 65 years old, earlier palliative care involvement, and involvement of home care services (P value < 0.05). Independent predictors for dying at home were male gender, age more than 65 years old, and involvement of home care services.
Conclusions: Hospital death is more prevalent than home death in cancer patients in Jordan. Involvement of home care services can help achieve the goal of dying at home.
OBJECTIVE: to analyze the strategies implemented by nurses to reconfigure palliative oncological care due to the hospital accreditation process in Hospital do Câncer IV (Hospital of Cancer IV).
METHOD: qualitative research of historical-social approach, whose direct sources in use were written documents and four spoken accounts.
RESULTS: implemented strategies were: creation of the Nursing Division; nursing staff management; consolidation of Continuing Education sector; creation of Internal Nursing Bylaws through development of norms and routines; meetings; discussion of clinical cases; training and classes; creation of Núcleo de Assistência de Enfermagem (Nursing Assistance Core); creation of a tumoral and ostomy wound-dressing ambulatory; and organization of the 5th Vital Sign Forum. Final considerations: nurses, supported by an alliance with the institution directors, implemented effective strategies and reached significant advancement. As they took part in this endeavor, they became legitimate spokespeople of an authorized discourse in the field of oncological nursing care in Brazil.
PURPOSE: Benefits of early palliative referral in oncology are well documented. Palliative care referral "triggers" may help identify patients for referral. Many triggers have been proposed, but are not commonly used. This study reviewed the timing of palliative care involvement for patients in a tertiary referral oncology hospital, and whether the use of a trigger tool prior to admission would have facilitated earlier referral.
METHODS: This was a retrospective cohort study of cancer patients who died during an unplanned admission between November 2014 and October 2015. A literature review identified seven palliative care referral tools which were included in this analysis, and compared by identifying common themes. Each tool was applied to patients by reviewing electronic patient records. Timing of palliative referral and whether patients met any triggers within 6 months before their terminal admission were assessed.
RESULTS: A total of 159 patients were identified. Forty-six percent were referred to palliative care prior to terminal admission. Application of 6 out of 7 trigger tools would have resulted in the majority of patients (up to 91.2%) referred to palliative care prior to admission. Most patients (52.2%) were referred only during their terminal admission. Patients known to palliative care before admission (N = 73) were reviewed quicker than those who were not (N = 86) (median (range) 1 day (0-23 days) versus 5 days (0-59 days), p < 0.00001).
CONCLUSIONS: In this patient cohort, a palliative referral trigger tool may have proactively identified most patients prior to their terminal admission. Prospective testing of trigger tools in oncology populations 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.