BACKGROUND: The International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) developed a consensus-based definition of palliative care (PC) that focuses on the relief of serious health related suffering, a concept put forward by the Lancet Commission Global Access to Palliative Care and Pain Relief.
AIM: The objective of this paper is to present the research behind the new definition.
METHODS: The three-phased consensus process involved health care workers from countries in all income levels. In phase one, 38 PC experts evaluated the components of the World Health Organization (WHO) definition and suggested new/revised ones. In phase two, 412 IAHPC members in 88 countries expressed their level of agreement with the suggested components. In phase three, using results from phase two, the expert panel developed the definition.
RESULTS: The consensus-based definition is "Palliative care is the active holistic care of individuals across all ages with serious health-related suffering due to severe illness and especially of those near the end of life. It aims to improve the quality of life of patients, their families and their caregivers." The definition includes a number of bullet points with additional details as well as recommendations for governments to reduce barriers to palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Participants had significantly different perceptions and interpretations of PC. The greatest challenge faced by the core group was trying to find a middle ground between those who think that PC is the relief of all suffering, and those who believe that PC describes the care of those with a very limited remaining life span.
Patients with cancer have an increased risk of developing severe forms of coronavirus disease 2019, and patients with advanced cancer who are followed at home represent a particularly frail population. Although with substantial differences, the challenges that cancer care professionals have to face during a pandemic are quite similar to those posed by natural disasters. We have already managed the oncological home care service in L’Aquila (middle Italy) after the 2009 earthquake. With this letter, we want to share the procedures and tools that we have started using at the home care service of the Tuscany Tumor Association during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.
Objective: Meeting the preferences of patients is considered an important palliative care outcome. Prior studies reported that more than 80% of patients with terminally ill cancer prefer to die at home. The purpose of this study was to determine place-of-death preference among palliative care patients in the outpatient centre and the palliative care unit (PCU) of a comprehensive cancer centre.
Methods: A cross-sectional anonymous questionnaire was administered to patients with advanced cancer and caregivers (PCU and outpatient centre) between August 2012 and September 2014. PCU patients responded when there was no delirium and the primary caregiver responded when the patient was unable to respond. In the case of outpatients, dyads were assessed. The survey was repeated 1 month later.
Results: Overall, 65% preferred home death. There was less preference for home death among PCU patients (58%) than among outpatients (72%). Patient and caregiver agreement regarding preferred place of death for home was 86%. After 1 month, outpatients were significantly more likely than PCU patients to have the same preferred place of death as they had 1 month earlier (96% vs 83%; p=0.003).
Conclusions: Although home was the preferred place of death in our group of patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers, a substantial minority preferred hospital death or had no preference. We speculate that PCU patients’ higher preference for hospital death is likely related to more severe distress because they had already tried home care. Personalised assessment of place of death preference for both patient and caregiver is needed.
Palliative Care (PC) physicians are vulnerable for burnout given the nature of practice. The burnout frequency may be variable and reported between 24 to 38 % across different countries.
OBJECTIVE: The main objective of our study was to determine the frequency of burnout among PC physicians participating in PC Continuing Medical Education (CME) course.
METHODS: A survey including the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) - General along with 41 custom questions were administered to determine the frequency of burnout among physicians attending the 2018 Hospice and Palliative Medicine (HPM) Board Review Course.
RESULTS: Of 110 physicians, 91 (83%) completed the survey. The median age was 48 years with 65% being females, 81% married, 46% in community practice, 38% in practice for 6–15 years. PC was practiced =50% of the time by 62%, and 76% were doing clinical work. About 73 (80%) reported that PC is appreciated at their work, 58 (64%) reported insurance to be a burden, and 58 (64%) reported that the electronic medical record was a burden. About 82 (90%) felt optimistic about continuing PC in future. Maslach Burnout Inventory results suggest that 35 (38%) participants reported at least one symptom of burnout. Only being single/separated showed trend toward significance with burnout (P = 0.056).
CONCLUSION: Burnout among PC physicians who attended a board review course was 38%. Being single/separated showed trend towards association with burnout. Physicians who choose to attend CME may have unique motivating characteristics allowing them to better cope with stress and avoid burnout.
CONTEXT: Few studies have examined how clinicians assess decision-making capacity for research in the last weeks of life.
OBJECTIVE: We examined the decision-making capacity for participation in a research study and its association with clinician impression and delirium among cancer patients with days to weeks of life expectancy.
METHODS: Patients admitted to our Palliative and Supportive Care Unit (PSCU) were approached for a prospective observational study. We assessed for their decision-making capacity based on clinical impression of physician and nurse, Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) and the MacArthur Competency Assessment Tool for Clinical Research (MacCAT-CR).
RESULTS: Among the 206 patients, 131 patients (64%) did not require MacCAT-CR assessment because they were overtly delirious or unresponsive; 37 (18%) patients were alert but did not complete the MacCAT-CR assessment for other reasons and 38 patients (18%) completed the MacCAT-CR assessment. Among these 38 patients, 5 (13%) were incapable and had normal albeit significantly higher MDAS scores compared to those who were capable (1.8 vs. 4.2, P=0.002). Compared against MacCAT-CR and MDAS, the overall agreement with capacity assessment with a clinician was 88% (95% CI 82-93%) for physicians and 90% (95% CI 82-94%) for nurses. The area-under the receiver-operating characteristics curve was 0.93 (95% CI 0.88-0.96) for physicians and 0.94 (95% CI 0.89-0.97) for nurses, suggesting high discrimination.
CONCLUSION: A majority of patients in the PSCU lacked decision-making capacity for participation in clinical research. Clinician impression had high accuracy. Few patients with normal MDAS were found to be incapable with MacCAT-CR assessment.
BACKGROUND, AIM, AND HYPOTHESIS: This randomized controlled trial aimed to compare the impact of a physician's attire on the perceptions of patients with cancer of compassion, professionalism, and physician preference. Our hypothesis was that patients would perceive the physician with formal attire as more compassionate than the physician wearing casual attire.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: One hundred five adult follow-up patients with advanced cancer were randomized to watch two standardized, 3-minute video vignettes with the same script, depicting a routine physician-patient clinic encounter. Videos included a physician in formal attire with tie and buttoned-up white coat and casual attire without a tie or white coat. Actors, patients, and investigators were all blinded to the purpose and videos watched, respectively. After each video, patients completed validated questionnaires rating their perception of physician compassion, professionalism, and their overall preference for the physician.
RESULTS: There were no significant differences between formal and casual attire for compassion (median [interquartile range], 25 [10-31] vs. 20 [8-27]; p = .31) and professionalism (17 [13-21] vs. 18 [14-22]; p = .42). Thirty percent of patients preferred formal attire, 31% preferred casual attire, and 38% had no preference. Subgroup analysis did not show statistically significant differences among different cohorts of age, sex, marital status, and education level.
CONCLUSION: Doctors' attire did not affect the perceptions of patients with cancer of physician's level of compassion and professionalism, nor did it influence the patients' preference for their doctor or their trust and confidence in the doctor's ability to provide care. There is a need for more studies in this area of communications skills.
Clinical trial identification number. NCT03168763
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The significance of physician attire as a means of nonverbal communication has not been well characterized. It is an important element to consider, as patient preferences vary geographically, are influenced by cultural beliefs, and may vary based on particular care settings. Previous studies consisted of nonblinded surveys and found increasing confidence in physicians wearing a professional white coat. Unfortunately, there are no randomized controlled trials, to the authors' knowledge, to confirm the survey findings. In this randomized, blinded clinical trial the researchers found that physician's attire did not affect patients' perception of the physician's level of compassion and professionalism. Attire also did not influence the patients' preferences for their doctor or their trust and confidence in the doctor's ability to provide care.
BACKGROUND: This study examined the changes in outpatient palliative care services at US cancer centers over the past decade.
METHODS: Between April and August 2018, all National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers and a random sample of 1252 non-NCI-designated cancer centers were surveyed. Two surveys used previously in a 2009 national study were sent to each institution: a 22-question cancer center executive survey regarding palliative care infrastructure and attitudes toward palliative care and an 82-question palliative care program leader survey regarding detailed palliative care structures and processes. Survey findings from 2018 were compared with 2009 data from 101 cancer center executives and 96 palliative care program leaders.
RESULTS: The overall response rate was 69% (140 of 203) for the cancer center executive survey and 75% (123 of 164) for the palliative care program leader survey. Among NCI-designated cancer centers, a significant increase in outpatient palliative care clinics was observed between 2009 and 2018 (59% vs 95%; odds ratio, 12.3; 95% confidence interval, 3.2-48.2; P < .001) with no significant changes in inpatient consultation teams (92% vs 90%; P = .71), palliative care units (PCUs; 26% vs 40%; P = .17), or institution-operated hospices (31% vs 18%; P = .14). Among non-NCI-designated cancer centers, there was no significant increase in outpatient palliative care clinics (22% vs 40%; P = .07), inpatient consultation teams (56% vs 68%; P = .27), PCUs (20% vs 18%; P = .76), or institution-operated hospices (42% vs 23%; P = .05). The median interval from outpatient palliative care referral to death increased significantly, particularly for NCI-designated cancer centers (90 vs 180 days; P = 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: Despite significant growth in outpatient palliative care clinics, there remain opportunities for improvement in the structures and processes of palliative care programs.
Palliative care has evolved over the past five decades as an interprofessional specialty to improve quality of life and quality of care for patients with cancer and their families. Existing evidence supports that timely involvement of specialist palliative care teams can enhance the care delivered by oncology teams. This review provides a state-of-the-science synopsis of the literature that supports each of the five clinical models of specialist palliative care delivery, including outpatient clinics, inpatient consultation teams, acute palliative care units, community-based palliative care, and hospice care. The roles of embedded clinics, nurse-led models, telehealth interventions, and primary palliative care also will be discussed. Outpatient clinics represent the key point of entry for timely access to palliative care. In this setting, patient care can be enhanced longitudinally through impeccable symptom management, monitoring, education, and advance care planning. Inpatient consultation teams provide expert symptom management and facilitate discharge planning for acutely symptomatic hospitalized patients. Patients with the highest level of distress and complexity may benefit from an admission to acute palliative care units. In contrast, community-based palliative care and hospice care are more appropriate for patients with a poor performance status and low to moderate symptom burden. Each of these five models of specialist palliative care serve a different patient population along the disease continuum and complement one another to provide comprehensive supportive care. Additional research is needed to define the standards for palliative care interventions and to refine the models to further improve access to quality palliative care.
Palliative care is seeing cancer patients earlier in the disease trajectory with a multitude of chronic issues. Chronic non-malignant pain (CNMP) in cancer patients is under-studied. In this prospective study, we examined the prevalence and management of CNMP in cancer patients seen at our supportive care clinic for consultation. We systematically characterized each pain type with the Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and documented current treatments. The attending physician made the pain diagnoses according to the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) task force classification. Among 200 patients (mean age 60 years, 69% metastatic disease, 1-year survival of 77%), the median number of pain diagnosis was 2 (IQR 1-2); 67 (34%, 95% CI 28-41%) had a diagnosis of CNMP; 133 (67%) had cancer-related pain; and 52 (26%) had treatment-related pain. In total, 12/31 (39%) patients with only CNMP and 21/36 (58%) patients with CNMP and other pain diagnoses were on opioids. There was a total of 94 CNMP diagnoses among 67 patients, including 37 (39%) osteoarthritis and 20 (21%) lower back pain; 30 (32%) were treated with opioids. In summary, CNMP was common in the timely palliative care setting and many patients were on opioids. Our findings highlight the need to develop clinical guidelines for CNMP in cancer patients to standardize its management.
Background: The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) is an academic institution of the Holy See (Vatican) which aims to develop and promote Catholic teachings on questions of biomedical ethics. Palliative care (PC) experts from around the world professing different faiths were invited by the PAV to develop strategic recommendations for the global development of PC ("PAL-LIFE group").
Design: Thirteen experts in PC advocacy participated in an online Delphi process. In four iterative rounds, participants were asked to identify the most significant stakeholder groups and then propose for each, strategic recommendations to advance PC. Each round incorporated the feedback from previous rounds until consensus was achieved on the most important recommendations. In the last step, the ad hoc group was asked to rank the stakeholders' groups by order of importance on a 13 points-scale and to propose suggestions for implementation. A cluster analysis provided a classification of the stakeholders in different levels of importance for PC development.
Results: Thirteen stakeholder groups and 43 recommendations resulted from the first round and, of those, 13 recommendations were chosen as the most important (one for each stakeholder group). Five groups had higher scores. The recommendation chosen for these top five groups were 1) Policy Makers: Ensure universal access to PC; 2) Academia: Offer mandatory PC courses to undergraduates; 3) Health care workers: PC professionals should receive adequate certification; 4) Hospitals and health care centers: Every healthcare center should ensure access to PC medicines, and 5) PC associations: National Associations should be effective advocates and work with their governments in the process of implementing international policy framework. Not chosen recommendations for both this higher scored group, plus for the remaining eight groups, are also presented in order of importance.
Conclusion: The white paper represents a position statementof the PAV with regards to advocacy and promotion of PC.
Background: Few studies have examined meaning in life, a novel existential outcome, in patients with advanced cancer across countries.
Objectives: We examined differences in meaning in life across 5 countries and identified factors associated with meaning in life.
Methods: This is a pre-planned secondary analysis of a prospective longitudinal multicenter observational study of patients with advanced cancer. Meaning in life was assessed using a validated scale which examined four domains of meaning: values, purpose, goals, and reflection. The total score ranged from 8 to 32, with a higher score indicating greater meaning in life.
Results: Among 728 patients, the median meaning in life score was 25/32 (interquartile range 23, 28). There was no significant difference in the total meaning in life score among 5 countries (P = 0.11), though there were differences in domain sub-scores. In the univariate analysis, patients with higher intensity of physical symptoms by ESAS score (pain, fatigue, drowsiness, dyspnea, insomnia), depression, anxiety, spiritual pain, and financial distress had significantly lower meaning in life. However, patients with higher levels of education, who were married, and who had higher optimism had significantly higher meaning in life. In the multivariate analysis, higher total meaning in life scores were significantly associated with greater optimism (multivariate estimate = 0.33, p < 0.001), lower depression (- 0.26, < 0.001), spiritual pain (- 0.19, < 0.001), and financial distress (- 0.16, < 0.001).
Conclusion: Country of origin was not a determinant of meaning in life. However, meaning in life was significantly associated with optimism, depression, spiritual pain, and financial distress, underscoring the multidimensional nature of this construct and potential opportunities for improvement in addressing meaning in life of patients with advanced cancer.
Background: Increasing the total opioid dose is the standard approach for managing uncontrolled cancer pain. Other than simply increasing the opioid dose, palliative care interventions are multidimensional and may improve pain control in the absence of opioid dose increase.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine the proportion of patients referred to our inpatient palliative care (IPC) team who achieved clinically improved pain (CIP) without opioid dose increase.
Design: We reviewed consecutive patients referred to our IPC team.
Setting/Subjects: Eligibility criteria included (1) taking opioid medication; (2) having =2 consecutive visits with the IPC team; and (3) an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) pain score =4 at consultation.
Measurements: We assessed patient demographics and clinical variables, including cancer type, opioid prescription data (type, route, and oral morphine equivalent daily dose [MEDD]), presence of opioid rotation, psychological consultation, changes in adjuvant medications (e.g., corticosteroids; antiepileptics—gabapentin and pregabalin; benzodiazepines; and neuroleptics), and achievement of CIP.
Results: Of the 300 patients enrolled, CIP was achieved in 196 (65%) patients. Of CIP patients, 85 (43%) achieved CIP without an increase in MEDD. CIP without MEDD increase was associated with more adjuvant medication changes (p = 0.003), less opioid rotation (p = 0.005), and lower symptom distress scale of ESAS (p = 0.04).
Conclusions: Nearly half of the patients achieved CIP without MEDD increase, suggesting that the multidimensional palliative care intervention is effective in improving pain control in many opioid-tolerant patients without the need to increase the opioid dose.
CONTEXT: Palliative care encompasses an interdisciplinary team, including mental health care professionals, to address psychological distress of cancer patients.
OBJECTIVES: To present the implementation of an outreach counseling program via videoconferencing or telephone to patients receiving care in an outpatient palliative care clinic and to compare patients using this service to those who only received psychological counseling in our outpatient clinic.
METHODS: We conducted a retrospective chart review of cancer patients seen for psychology counseling services in an outpatient supportive care center between June 2015 and March 2017.
RESULTS: We reviewed 2072 unique patients (52% of the total patients seen at the outpatient Supportive Care Center), who had 4567 total counseling encounters across outreach and outpatient settings. A total of 452 (22%) patients participated in a combination of outpatient and outreach counseling services. Patients who participated in outreach services had significantly more encounters (311 [69%] had two to five sessions) compared with those who had outpatient services only (1137 [70%] had one session only) (P < .001). Outreach patients also had shorter times between the initial and follow-up encounters (median 14 days) compared with those who had outpatient services only (median 30 days) (P < .0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Outreach telehealth counseling services was found to enhance palliative care patient access to psychological counseling. These services represent an additional modality for providing continuous psychological care.
Background: Few studies have investigated water balance as a predictor of survival in cancer patients in the last days of life.
Objective: To examine the association between extracellular water (ECW), intracellular water (ICW), ratio of ECW to ICW (ECW/ICW), and survival in nonedematous and edematous patients with advanced cancer admitted to a palliative care unit.
Design: A prospective observational study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients with advanced cancer admitted to a palliative care unit.
Measurements: Upon enrollment, bioelectrical impedance analysis was used to assess ECW, ICW, and body composition. We conducted time-to-event analyses using the Kaplan-Meier method, log-rank test, and univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses.
Results: A total of 190 of 204 patients who participated in this study had ICW and ECW measures available for analysis. The median survival was 10 days (95% confidence interval [CI] 9–12) days. The median ECW, ICW, and ECW/ICW were 18.9 L, 19.1 L, and 1.0 for 72 nonedematous patients, and 21.9 L, 20.1 L, and 1.1 for 118 edematous patients, respectively. In univariate Cox regression analysis, ICW =20 L was associated with a shorter survival in the nonedematous patients (hazard ratio [HR] 1.92, 95% CI 1.10–3.34, p = 0.02) and a longer survival in the edematous patients (HR 0.61, 95% CI 0.41–0.90, p = 0.01). In multivariable analysis, ICW (=20 L vs. >20 L) remained an independent prognostic factor in edematous patients (HR 0.64, 95% CI 0.43–0.95, p = 0.03).
Conclusions: Greater ICW was an independent predictor of poorer survival in cancer patients with edema in the last days of life.
Introduction: the concept of total suffering is well known to palliative care, and it indicates that there are several complex and correlated factors, which contribute to a dynamic and unique experience of one's illness trajectory. Research on terminally ill patients' will to live (WtL) has revealed important insights on its fluctuations over time and its correlated factors. We report an N-of-1 case study with the aim of examining the concept of total suffering objectively, and the WtL trajectory over time, its fluctuations, as well as its possible correlation with other distressing symptoms in a terminally ill cancer patient.
Case Description: souffrA 72-year-old cancer patient who verbalized total suffering and a low WtL. We used the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS), added an additional WtL question, and asked the patient to rate her suffering using the ESAS twice daily (morning and afternoon) for a period of 28 days. Spearman's correlation coefficients between all physical and psychosocial ESAS items were statistical significant in 34 of the 45 performed correlations (30 highly significantly correlations and 4 in a lesser degree). WtL trajectory was fluctuant through the course of the illness, and significant correlations between WtL and all ESAS items were found, except for shortness of breath and drowsiness (after Bonferroni correction). High positive correlations were found between WtL and ESAS total score and ESAS physical and psychological subscores.
Discussion: Developing evidence-based understanding of total suffering and WtL in the terminally ill will lead to better approaches to patients and their loved ones.
Background: There is a growing preference for the use of marijuana for medical purposes, despite limited evidence regarding its benefits and potential safety risks. Legalization status may play a role in the attitudes and preferences toward medical marijuana (MM).
Objectives: The attitudes and beliefs of cancer patients in a legalized (Arizona) versus nonlegalized state (Texas) regarding medical and recreational legalization and medical usefulness of marijuana were compared.
Settings/Subjects: Two hundred adult cancer patients were enrolled from outpatient Palliative Care centers at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, AZ (n = 100) and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX (n = 100).
Design and Measurements: Adult cancer patients seen by the Palliative Care teams in the outpatient centers were evaluated. Various physical and psychosocial assessments were conducted, including a survey of attitudes and beliefs toward marijuana.
Results: The majority of individuals support legalization of marijuana for medical use (Arizona 92% [85–97%] vs. Texas 90% [82–95%]; p = 0.81) and belief in its medical usefulness (Arizona 97% [92–99%] vs. Texas 93% [86–97%]; p = 0.33) in both states. Overall, 181 (91%) patients supported legalization for medical purposes whereas 80 (40%) supported it for recreational purposes (p < 0.0001). Patients preferred marijuana over current standard treatments for anxiety (60% [51–68%]; p = 0.003). Patients found to favor legalizing MM were younger (p = 0.027), had worse fatigue (p = 0.015), appetite (p = 0.004), anxiety (p = 0.017), and were Cut Down, Annoyed, Guilty, and Eye Opener-Adapted to Include Drugs (CAGE-AID) positive for alcohol/drugs (p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Cancer patients from both legalized and nonlegalized states supported legalization of marijuana for medical purposes and believed in its medical use. The support for legalization for medical use was significantly higher than for recreational use in both states.
BACKGROUND: The concurrent use of opioids with benzodiazepines (BZD) or nonbenzodiazepine sedatives (S) recently was found to be associated with an increased risk of overdose death compared with the use of opioids alone. In the current study, the authors examined the frequency and trend of concurrent opioid/BZD-S use and its associated risk factors among patients with cancer.
METHODS: Data regarding the frequency and trend of concurrent opioid/BZD-S use were extracted for 1500 randomly selected patients referred to the outpatient palliative care clinic at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center between the calendar years of 2011 and 2016. To explore associated risk factors, the authors compared the demographic and clinical predictors of 418 patients each in the concurrent opioid/BZD-S group and opioids-only group.
RESULTS: In 2011, at the time of referral to the palliative care clinic, 96 of 221 patients with cancer (43%) were prescribed concurrent opioids/BZD-S. This rate progressively declined to 67 of 217 patients (31%) by 2016 (P = .0008). Patients in the concurrent opioid/BZD-S group had a higher percentage of females (233 individuals; 55% [P = .007]) and whites (323 individuals; 77% [P = .002]), and patients reported higher scores regarding depression (P = .0001), anxiety (P = .0001), drowsiness (P = .048), and worst feeling of well-being (P = .001). The morphine equivalent daily dose was significantly higher in concurrent opioid/BZD-S group (median of 67.5 mg/day [interquartile range (IQR), 30-135 mg/day] vs 60 mg/day [IQR, 30-105 mg/day]; P = .034). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that anxiety (P = .0001), white race (P = .0092), and poor Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status (P = .0017) were significantly associated with concurrent use.
CONCLUSIONS: The concurrent use of opioids with BZD-S has declined but continues to be frequent among patients with cancer. Anxiety, white race, and poor Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status were associated with its use. More research is needed to explore which medications can replace these agents.
PURPOSE: The primary aim of this study was to determine the attitudes and beliefs of hematology and medical oncology (HMO) fellows regarding palliative care (PC) after they completed a 4-week mandatory PC rotation.
METHODS: The PC rotation included a 4-week standardized curriculum covering all PC domains. HMO fellows were provided educational materials and attended all didactic sessions. All had clinical rotation in an acute PC unit and an outpatient clinic. All HMO fellows from 2004 to 2017 were asked to complete a 32-item survey on oncology trainee perception of PC.
RESULTS: Of 105 HMO fellows, 77 (73%) completed the survey. HMO fellows reported that PC rotation improved assessment and management of symptoms (98%); opioid prescription (89%), opioid rotation (78%), and identification of opioid adverse effects (87%); communication with patients and families (91%), including advance care planning discussion (88%) and do-not-resuscitate discussion (88%); and they reported comfort with discussing ethical issues (74%). Participants reported improvement in knowledge of symptom assessment and management (n = 76; 98%) as compared with efficacy in ethics (n = 57 [74%]; P = .0001) and for coping with stress of terminal illness (n = 45 [58%]; P = .0001). The PC rotation educational experience was considered either far better or better (53%) or the same (45%) as other oncology rotations. Most respondents (98%) would recommend PC rotations to other HMO fellows, and 95% felt rotation should be mandatory.
CONCLUSION: HMO fellows reported PC rotation improved their attitudes and knowledge in all PC domains. PC rotation was considered better than other oncology rotations and should be mandatory.
Background: Cancer-related physical symptoms can decrease patients' overall quality of life and are often underdiagnosed. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) is widely used in palliative care for cancer patients to easily assess cancer patients' symptoms. It has been often modified, adding symptoms and explanations, and translated into many languages. The European Association of Palliative Care research team developed a database, which included the modified 12-item ESAS-r as the symptom assessment tool.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to achieve the translation and cross-cultural validation in French of the 12-item ESAS-r, the ESAS12-F.
Design: A French version of the ESAS-r was developed using a standardized forward and backward translation method. Patients completed the ESAS12-F and provided feedback on the translation.
Setting/Subjects: Forty-five patients with advanced cancer, followed by the palliative care team from the Lyon Sud University Hospital in France, were recruited.
Results: Eighty-nine percent of patients considered the ESAS easy to understand. They highlighted some concerns more about the tool itself than the translation: the time line "now," the difficulty to quantify a symptom in a numerical evaluation. Some items (sleep and appetite) needed to be reread and for some others (digestive and psychological symptoms, and well-being) to be reordered in the questionnaire.
Conclusion: The ESAS12-F is well accepted and easy to use for the cancer patients. The next step is to carry out a psychometric validation of the definitive version of the ESAS12-F.
Background: Palliative care (PC) improves the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer. Our aim was to describe PC referral among patients with advanced cancer, and associated outcomes in an academic medical centre.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of 536 inpatients with cancer who had died in 2010. Our retrospective study compared patients who accessed PC services with those who did not. Statistical analysis was conducted using non-parametric tests due to non-normal distribution. We also conducted a multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model including age, gender, type of cancer and metastatic status.
Results: Out of 536 patients, 239 (45%) had PC referral. The most common cancer types were respiratory (22%) and gastrointestinal (19%). Patients with breast cancer (OR 23.76; CI 6.12 to 92.18) and gynaecological cancer (OR 7.64; CI 2.61 to 22.35) had greater PC access than patients with respiratory or haematological cancer. Patients referred to PC had significantly less chemotherapy in the last 2 weeks of life than non-referred patients, with 22 patients (9%) vs 59 (19%; p<0.001). PC-referred patients had significantly fewer admissions to intensive care units in the last month of life than non-referred patients, with 14 (6%) vs 58 (20%; p<0.001).
Conclusions: There was a large variation in access to PC according to the type of cancer. There is a need to improve collaboration between the PC service and the respiratory, cancer and haematology specialists. Further research will be required to determine the modality and the impact of this collaboration.