Despite significant advances in heart failure (HF) treatment, HF remains a progressive, extremely symptomatic, and terminal disease with a median survival of 2.1 years after diagnosis. HF often leads to a constellation of symptoms, including dyspnea, fatigue, depression, anxiety, insomnia, pain, and worsened cognitive function. Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their caregivers facing the problems associated with life-threatening illness and therefore is well suited to support these patients. However, historically, palliative care has often focused on supporting patients with malignant disease, rather than a progressive chronic disease such as HF. Predicting mortality in patients with HF is challenging. The lack of obvious transition points in disease progression also raises challenges to primary care providers and specialists to know at what point to integrate palliative care during a patient's disease trajectory.
Although therapies for HF often result in functional and symptomatic improvements including health-related quality of life (HRQL), some patients with HF do not demonstrate these benefits, including those patients with a preserved ejection fraction. Provision of palliative care for patients with HF requires an understanding of HF pathogenesis and common medications used for these patients, as well as an approach to balancing life-prolonging and HRQL care strategies. This review describes HF and current targeted therapies and their effects on symptoms, hospital admission rates, exercise performance, HRQL, and survival. Pharmacological interactions with and precautions related to commonly used palliative care medications are reviewed. The goal of this review is to equip palliative care clinicians with information to make evidence-based decisions while managing the balance between optimal disease management and patient quality of life.
Context: Patients with significant burn injuries likely have palliative care needs.
Objectives: We performed a systematic review of existing evidence concerning the palliative care needs of burn patients.
Methods: Through November 26, 2018, we systematically searched PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, Web of Science, and Scopus, using terms representing burn injuries and the eight domains of quality palliative care as outlined by the National Consensus Project for Quality Palliative Care. Eligible articles involved burn-injured patients treated with an intervention targeting at least one of the eight domains.
Results: Our searches yielded 7532 unique records, which led to 238 articles for full review and 88 studies that met inclusion criteria. Seventy-five studies addressed the domain physical aspects of care and merit a separate systematic review; 13 studies were included in our final review. Four of the seven domains—processes of care, psychologic symptoms, social aspects, and end of life—were addressed by studies but three domains—spiritual, cultural, or ethics—were unaddressed. Included studies highlight potential benefits from peridischarge self-care education programs, peer support, and group therapy in improving quality of life. In patients with severe injuries, end-of-life decision-making protocols were associated with increased utilization of comfort-focused treatments.
Conclusion: Most existing palliative care-related research in burn patients addresses interventions for physical symptoms with minimal literature concerning other domains. Opportunities exist for further research of palliative care in burn populations with emphasis on addressing interventions for all domains and better standardizing the language and outcomes for the palliative care interventions.
Context: Previous work has found that facilitated advance care planning (ACP) interventions are effective in increasing ACP uptake among patients with severe respiratory disease.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate whether a nurse-led, facilitated ACP intervention among participants with severe respiratory disease impacts self-reported or clinical outcomes.
Methods: A multicenter, open-label, patient-preference, randomized controlled trial of a nurse-led facilitated ACP intervention was performed. Outcome measures included self-report scales (health care satisfaction and EQ-5D-5L health-related quality of life at three- and six-month follow-up), 12-month mortality, and health care utilization during the final 90 days of life.
Results: One hundred forty-nine participants were recruited across two study settings (metropolitan tertiary hospital respiratory department and rural sites) and 106 were allocated to receive the ACP intervention. There was no effect of the intervention on satisfaction with health care, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rates. Among those participants who died during the follow-up period (N = 54), those allocated to the ACP intervention had significantly fewer outpatient consultations (7.51 vs. 13.6, P < 0.001). There were no changes in emergency department attendances, total hospital admissions or length of stay, or home nursing visits. Among those allocated to the ACP intervention, there was a reduced length of stay in acute hospital settings (7.76 vs. 11.5 nights, P < 0.001) and increased length of stay in palliative hospital settings (5.54 vs. 2.08, P < 0.001) during the final 90 days of life.
Conclusion: A facilitated ACP intervention among patients with severe respiratory disease did not have an impact on satisfaction, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rate. Facilitated ACP may be associated with a different type of health care utilization during the end-of-life period.
Context: Patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing dialysis experience multiple concurrent symptoms. These symptoms cluster together and have negative impacts on patient outcomes. However, information on changes in symptom clusters over time is limited.
Objectives: This longitudinal study examined the stability of symptom clusters and their impacts on health-related quality of life and functional status over a period of one year.
Methods: Eligibility criteria were patients diagnosed with end-stage renal disease; had received dialysis consecutively for at least three months; and had given written informed consent. Dialysis Symptom Index, Kidney Disease Quality of Life 36, and Karnofsky Performance Status Scale were used to evaluate the impacts of symptom clusters and outcomes. Exploratory factor analyses and multiple regression analyses were used to determine symptom clusters and their associations with patient outcomes.
Results: Among the 354 recruited patients, 271 completed the 12-month assessment. Four symptom clusters were identified across the three assessments, namely, uremic, gastrointestinal, skin, and emotional. Within each cluster, the specific symptoms were varied. The uremic symptom cluster accounted for the largest amount of variability. Across the three assessments, a higher uremic cluster factor score was associated with poorer physical well-being, whereas a higher emotional cluster factor score was consistently associated with poorer mental well-being.
Conclusion: Symptoms in patients on dialysis clustered in relatively stable patterns. The four symptom clusters identified had consistent negative effects on various aspects of patients' well-being. Our findings suggest the need for ongoing symptom assessment and early recognition of symptoms that may contribute to adverse patient outcomes.
On March 28, 2020, the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened investigations into recently released critical care crisis triage protocols. Disability rights advocates are urging Congress to prohibit crisis triage based on “anticipated or demonstrated resource-intensity needs, the relative survival probabilities of patients deemed likely to benefit from medical treatment, and assessments of pre- or post-treatment quality of life.”
OBJECTIVE: This study explored how built space plays out in palliative care, focusing on spatial aspects that could support or hamper patients', relatives' and caregivers' well-being.
METHODS: This study was conducted in a freestanding small-scale hospice combining a residential part for eight guests with a day-care part for groups of about five persons. Observations were combined with semistructured, individual interviews with eight guests (sometimes accompanied by relatives) and three focus-group interviews with staff, volunteers and relatives. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed based on the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven.
RESULTS: The most important spatial aspects that impact on physical and social well-being in palliative care turned out to be the building scale and physical proximity. The small-scale setting counters the (often negative) association of palliative care with hospital environments. When the medical condition of the guest allows, it makes communal or outdoor spaces reachable, which enhances emotional and social well-being. In worse conditions, it still makes that care and nature are always nearby. The compactness of communal spaces intensifies social contacts.
CONCLUSIONS: The building scale and physical proximity play out in the relationship between the building and its surroundings, between the residential and the day-care parts and among people within the building. Future research could investigate to what extent these spatial aspects are relevant in more conventional palliative care units or even in general hospital wards.
PURPOSE: Although nutritional interventions are becoming widely used in cancer patients, purposes and results of such treatment are not always well-defined. This is because nutrition is traditionally considered a palliative treatment to be confined to the area of palliative cares, whereas the modern approach includes nutrition as an early supplemental support to improve compliance of patients with the oncologic therapies and total parenteral nutrition may be recommended in patients who would be destined to succumb prior from starvation-malnutrition than from tumour progression. Purpose of this paper if to define the potential as well as the limitations of nutritional interventions on both the survival and the quality of life of the advanced cancer patients.
RECENT FINDINGS: Some RCT on the use of oral, enteral and supplemental parenteral nutrition in patients on oncologic therapy show some benefit on compliance with therapy and in some domains of quality of life. Some malnourished (hypo)aphagic incurable cancer patients may survive longer thanks to parenteral nutrition, while few data suggest that quality of life may be maintained for a limited period of time. With a few exceptions, oncology and nutrition have till recently travelled on parallel tracks without talking each other. The oncologist who knows the natural history of the patients should understand which risk of complication and of poor tolerance to the treatment can malnourished patients carry and which is the potential of parenteral nutrition in hypophagic incurable patients.
Background: o randomized controlled trials (RCT) have yet identified the optimal palliative radiotherapy scheme in patients with incurable head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We conducted RCT to compare two radiation schemes in terms of efficacy, toxicity and quality-of-life (QoL).
Materials and methods: Patients with locally-advanced HNSCC who were ineligible for radical treatment and those with limited metastatic disease were randomly assigned in 1:1 ratio to arm 1 (36 Gy in 6 fractions, twice a week) or arm 2 (50 Gy in 16 fractions, four times a week).
Results: The trial was discontinued early because of slow accrual (34 patients enrolled). Objective response rates were 38.9% and 57.1% for arm 1 and 2 respectively (p = 0.476). The median time to loco-regional progression was not reached. The loco-regional control rates at 1 year was 57.4% and 69.3% in arm 1 and 2 (p = 0.450, HR = 0.56, 95%CI 0.12–2.58). One-year overall survival was 33.3% and 57.1%, with medians of 35.4 and 59.5 weeks, respectively (p = 0.215, HR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.21–1.43). Acute grade =3 toxicity was lower in arm 1 (16.7% versus 57.1%, p = 0.027), with the largest difference in grade 3 mucositis (5.6% versus 42.9%, p = 0.027). However, no significant deterioration in any of the patient-reported QoL-scales was found.
Conclusion: No solid conclusion could be made on this incomplete study which is closed early. Long-course radiotherapy did not show significantly better oncologic outcomes, but was associated with more acute grade 3 mucositis. No meaningful differences in QoL-scores were found. Therefore, the shorter schedule might be carefully advocated. However, this recommendation should be interpreted with great caution because of the inadequate statistical power.
There is growing evidence that palliative care supports the needs of patients with advanced lung cancer. Early palliative care referral has been shown to improve quality of life, decrease symptom burden, and help patients better understand their illness. However, access to palliative care specialists is limited. All providers caring for patients with lung cancer should be able to manage basic symptoms and engage in routine discussions about goals of care, prognosis, and suffering. By developing primary palliative care skills, more patients, even those with earlier stages of lung cancer, benefit from better symptom management, communication, support, and quality of life.
Background: A broad consensus on the optimal structure, intensity, and timing of early specialist palliative care (SPC) intervention is lacking.
Objective: To evaluate the benefit of an early and systematic palliative intervention alongside standard oncology care compared with standard oncology care alone in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Design: PALINT, a single-center RCT, conducted at the Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute, the largest comprehensive cancer center in the Czech Republic (CR).
Setting/Subjects/Measurements: Patients with newly diagnosed advanced cancer within six weeks from the start of the palliative systemic therapy were randomly assigned to the integration of SPC (intervention; a consultation with a PC physician every six to eight weeks) or to the standard oncology care (control). The primary endpoint was the quality of life (QOL) assessed by EORTC QLQ C30 and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at three and six months.
Results: From 2015 to 2017, a total of 126 patients were randomly assigned to intervention (60) or to control (66) arm. At baseline, at three and six months, the global QOL scores (mean, 95% CI) in the intervention and control arm were 58.6 (53.9–63.3), 61.9 (56.4–67.4) and 66.7 (60.2–73.2) versus 54.2 (49.4–58.9), 59.0 (53.7–64.3), and 62.8 (56.7–68.9), respectively. The prevalence of anxiety (HADS-A; value >7) was 36.7%, 27.5%, and 18.9% versus 34.8%, 23.5%, and 16.3% and the prevalence of depression (HADS-D; value >7) was 28.3%, 25.4%, and 29.7% versus 28.8%, 29.4%, and 27.9%, respectively. There was no significant difference between the two arms. The overall survival was similar in both arms (347 vs. 310 days; p = 0.203).
Conclusions: A model of early integration of SPC consisting of a consultation with a PC physician alone every six to eight weeks did not increase the QOL of patients with advanced cancer compared with routine oncology care in a center with widely available supportive services. These negative results underline the importance of the multidisciplinary patient centered approach in the early SPC.
Being diagnosed with an advanced liver disease (ALD), such as decompensated cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, has a dramatic impact on both life expectancy and quality of life for afflicted individuals. Although many scientific achievements in the field of hepatology have led to improved survival in these cohorts of patients, curative options are still unavailable for most. Much less attention has been paid to improving the quality of life for these patients, which is expected to be a growing need. Integrating principles of palliative care in the management of patients with ALD may be one way of solving this issue.
The complexities surrounding the dying process may distort rational decision-making and impact care at the end of life. Advance care planning, which focuses on identifying the individual's definition of quality of life, holds great potential to provide clarity at the end of life. Currently, young adults are not the intended audience for advance care planning. A quality improvement project engaged 36 college-age adults in structured group advance care planning discussions and evaluated the perceived value of a self-recorded advance directive. Findings from a pre- and postintervention survey suggested that young adults welcomed a conversation about end-of-life care; they wished for more information and expressed that a video-recorded advance directive stimulated thoughts about their own definition of quality of life. Participants' improved self-perception of comfort, confidence, certainty, and knowledge regarding the advance care planning process and end-of-life care indicated young adults may be a willing and eager population for the expansion of advance care planning. In addition to directing advance care planning to a younger audience, a personal video-recorded advance directive may complement the current advance care planning process and aid individuals in defining their quality of life.
BACKGROUND: There is evidence that psychosocial and spiritual interventions of short duration, such as reminiscence therapy, provide positive impacts on quality of life and emotional and existential well-being in adults receiving palliative care.
AIM: To determine (1) the feasibility of integrating 'LIFEView', a video-based software with >1600 videos of world destinations, in palliative care settings, and (2) positive, neutral or harmful effects of using 'LIFEView' videos.
DESIGN: A mixed-methods pre-post intervention pilot study was conducted to collect feasibility and preliminary data on physical and psychological symptoms, physiological indicators, spiritual well-being and aspects of quality of life.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients on an inpatient palliative care unit or receiving care from a community palliative care consultation team who were capable of providing consent and completing the outcome measures were eligible participants.
RESULTS: Overall, 27/41 (66%) participants took part in the study. Feasibility criteria, including participant acceptability, low participant burden, tool completion rate and retention rate, were fulfilled, though challenges were experienced with recruitment. Modest improvements, though non-significant, were shown on preliminary data collected on physical and psychological symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-revised, spiritual well-being assessed by the 12-item Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Spiritual Well-Being scale and physiological measurements. Qualitative analysis revealed five themes: motivations for using 'LIFEView', perceptions of the technology, reminiscence, 'LIFEView' as an adaptable technology and ongoing or future use.
CONCLUSION: A future adequately powered study to investigate the impacts of 'LIFEView' on patient well-being and quality of life appears to be feasible.
Older people living alone has been reported to be socially isolated and suffering from loneliness. Although spiritual care is a core element of end-of-life care for older people, a clear-cut definition of spirituality has not been established yet. It remains unclear how spirituality is perceived by heath care professionals and how spiritual care is delivered in the end of life. Also, most of the previous studies on perspective of older people living alone targeted women, while very few researches shed light on the experience of older men. The aim of the present study was to investigate the spirituality of older men living alone near the end-of-life. We conducted group interviews targeting 30 care managers and individual in-depth interviews to 15 older men living alone. Qualitative content analysis was used. Five main themes emerged: worthlessness and hopelessness, autonomy and independence, comfort and gratitude, past experiences, and well-being indicator. Our findings provide important additional information that can help clinicians, nurses and care managers achieve better patient-centered care for older men living alone and enhance their dignity. Our investigation found that Japanese older men living alone were enjoying their autonomous status and freedom, despite wide spread negative views of them. Their spiritual health was found to be enhanced through gratitude to everyone with whom they had crossed paths in their life, yearning for the presence of a female companion, and confirming their health measurements were comparative or better than those of others in the same age group.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers carry heavy end-of-life (EOL) caregiving burdens, with their physical and psychological well-being threatened from caregiving to bereavement. However, caregiving burden has rarely been examined as a risk factor for bereavement adjustment to disentangle the wear-and-tear vs relief models of bereavement.
Objective/Methods: Preloss and postloss variables associated with severe depressive symptoms and quality of life (QOL) for 201 terminally ill cancer patients' caregivers over their first 2 years of bereavement were simultaneously evaluated using multivariate hierarchical linear modeling. Severe depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale score > 16) and QOL (physical and mental component summaries of the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form Health Survey) were measured 1, 3, 6, 13, 18, and 24 months postloss.
RESULTS: Caregivers' likelihood of severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved significantly from the second year and throughout the first 2 years of bereavement, respectively, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over time. Higher subjective caregiving burden and postloss concurrent greater social support and better QOL were associated with bereaved caregivers' lower likelihood of severe depressive symptoms. Bereaved caregivers' mental health-related QOL was facilitated and impeded by concurrent greater perceived social support and severe depressive symptoms, respectively.
CONCLUSION: Severe depressive symptoms and mental health-related QOL improved substantially, whereas physical health-related QOL remained steady over the first 2 years of bereavement for cancer patients' caregivers. Timely referrals to adequate bereavement services should be promoted for at-risk bereaved caregivers, thus addressing their support needs and facilitating their bereavement adjustment.
Background: Palliative care is a specialized approach to symptom management that focuses on supporting patients' physical and psychological quality of life throughout the disease course. In oncology, palliative care has been increasing in utilization. The evidence base for such care is also growing through the use of randomized controlled trials (RCTs). In this review, we aim to integrate the findings from 4 meta-analyses of palliative oncology care RCTs to examine the impact of palliative care on physical and psychological quality of life and survival.
Method: We considered 4 meta-analyses of palliative oncology care RCTs, which each used slightly different methodologies and analyses. Two of the meta-analyses included both outpatient and inpatient populations, whereas the remaining meta-analyses focused specifically on outpatient palliative oncology care.
Results: All 4 meta-analyses reported a robust quality of life advantage for patients randomized to receive palliative care. Two meta-analyses identified a survival advantage, whereas the other 2 detected no survival differences. In 1 meta-analysis that examined high-quality RCTs of outpatient palliative oncology care, it was found that an increased survival probability for palliative care, compared with standard of care, was confined to 6- to 18-month follow-up.
Conclusions: There is a growing evidence base for palliative oncology care, as highlighted by the 4 meta-analyses considered. Such care successfully improves both physical and psychological quality of life for patients with serious illnesses, especially cancer. Clinicians should educate patients and their caregivers about the findings of these meta-analyses. Finally, governmental policies should focus on increasing palliative care access.
Background: Voluntary work plays a significant role in hospice care, but international research has mainly been conducted on the mental health and fear of death of paid hospice staff. The aim of the present study was to compare the Hungarian hospice volunteers with paid employees with regard to attitudes and fear of death, as well as mental health in order to see their role in hospice work and their psychological well-being more clearly.
Methods: The target population of the cross-sectional questionnaire study was hospice care providers in Hungary (N = 1255). The response rate was 15.5% (N = 195); 91.8% (N = 179) of them were women. The mean age of female hospice workers was 45.8 years (SD = 10.46 years, range: 23–73 years). One-quarter (27.9%, N = 50) of the female respondents were volunteers. The instruments were: the Multidimensional Fear of Death Scale, the Perceived Stress Scale, the WHO-5 Well-Being Index, and a shortened versions of the Beck Depression Inventory and the Maastricht Vital Exhaustion Questionnaire.
Results: Volunteers scored significantly lower on 5 dimensions of fear of death than paid employees, and showed significantly lower levels of vital exhaustion and significantly higher levels of psychological well-being than paid employees. Fear of the dying process was associated with an increased perceived stress, depressive symptoms, and vital exhaustion in both groups. Psychological well-being showed a significant negative, moderate correlation with four aspects of fear of death among paid staff; this pattern did not appear in the volunteer group. In addition, the association between fear of premature death and perceived stress, vital exhaustion, and depressive symptoms was more pronounced is case of paid workers.
Conclusion: Higher levels of psychological well-being and lower levels of fear of death among hospice volunteers suggest that they are less exhausted than paid employees. Increasing the recruitment of volunteers in hospices may help reduce the overload and exhaustion of paid employees.
Palliative medicine is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. Serious illness is one with high risk of mortality that negatively affects quality of life or function or is burdensome in symptoms, treatments, or caregiver stress. Palliative care improves symptom management and addresses the needs of patients and families, resulting in improved patient and caregiver quality of life and reduced symptom burden and health care utilization. Hospice is palliative care for patients with a prognosis of 6 months or less and is appropriate when goals are to avoid hospitalization and maximize time at home for patients who are dying.
As we look toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we overview challenges to be minimized, including economic setbacks, health and well-being effects, and highlighted ageism, racism, and classism. We articulate opportunities to be seized, including increased comfort with technology and online platforms; stronger family and intergenerational connections, renewed energy to combat social isolation; more respect for self-care and time management; increased awareness about the importance of advance directives; and, potentially, increased interest across disciplines to work on issues of aging society. Ongoing efforts to improve policies and programs for longer, healthier lives might now be more productive, as we communicate to consumers, public officials, and everyday citizens who may be more aware of what isn't working, what is at stake, and what might be improved.