BACKGROUND: In ageing Western societies, many older persons live with and die from cancer. Despite that present-day healthcare aims to be patient-centered, scientific literature has little knowledge to offer about how cancer and its treatment impact older persons' various outlooks on life and underlying life values. Therefore, the aims of this paper are to: 1) describe outlooks on life and life values of older people (= 70) living with incurable cancer; 2) elicit how healthcare professionals react and respond to these.
METHODS: Semi-structured qualitative interviews with 12 older persons with advanced cancer and two group interviews with healthcare professionals were held and followed by an analysis with a grounded theory approach.
RESULTS: Several themes and subthemes emerged from the patient interview study: a) handling incurable cancer (the anticipatory outlook on "a reduced life", hope and, coping with an unpredictable disease) b) being supported by others ("being there", leaving a legacy, and having reliable healthcare professionals) and; c) making end-of-life choices (anticipatory fears, and place of death). The group interviews explained how healthcare professionals respond to the abovementioned themes in palliative care practice. Some barriers for (open) communication were expressed too by the latter, e.g., lack of continuity of care and advance care planning, and patients' humble attitudes.
CONCLUSIONS: Older adults living with incurable cancer showed particular outlooks on life and life values regarding advanced cancer and the accompanying last phase of life. This paper could support healthcare professionals and patients in jointly exploring and formulating these outlooks and values in the light of treatment plans.
BACKGROUND: Family caregivers provide the majority of care for people with Parkinson's disease (PD) in the palliative care phase. For many this is a demanding experience, affecting their quality of life.
OBJECTIVE: We set out to map the experiences of bereaved family caregivers during the period of informal care in the palliative care phase as well as after the death of their loved one with PD.
METHODS: Ten bereaved family caregivers participated in this qualitative study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and interpretative phenomenological analysis was used executed.
RESULTS: We identified four main themes. 1) Feeling like a professional caregiver: while caring for a person with PD, the family caregivers took over many roles and tasks of the person with PD.2) Healthcare professionals do not always know what PD really means. Most interviewees had negative experiences with knowledge and understanding of PD of, especially, (practice) nurses. 3) Being on your own: many respondents had felt highly responsible for their loved one's care and lacked time and space for themselves. Grief and feelings of guilt were present during the caregiving period and after death. 4) Being behind the times: to provide palliative care in line with patients' preferences and to feel prepared for the palliative care phase of PD, proactive palliative care planning was considered important. However, the interviewees told that this was most often not provided.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate that caring for a person with PD in the palliative care phase is a demanding experience for family caregivers. They experience psychological problems for many years before and after the death of the person with PD. Increasing healthcare professionals' awareness of family and bereaved caregivers' needs may mitigate these long-term detrimental effects.
BACKGROUND: There is little information about how healthcare professionals feel about providing palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder (SUD). Therefore, this study aims to explore: 1) the problems and needs experienced by healthcare professionals, volunteers and experts-by-experience (HCP/VE) during their work with patients with SUD in a palliative care trajectory and; 2) to make suggestions for improvements using the quality of care model by Donabedian (Structure, Process, Outcome).
METHODS: A qualitative study was conducted, consisting of six focus group interviews which consisted of HCP/VE working with patients with SUD in a palliative care phase. At the end of the focus group interviews, participants structured and summarized their experiences within a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) framework. Interview transcripts (other than the SWOT) were analysed by the researchers following procedures from the Grounded Theory Approach ('Grounded Theory Lite'). SWOT-findings were not subjected to in-depth analysis.
RESULTS: HCP/VE stated that within the Structure of care, care networks are fragmented and HCP/VE often lack knowledge about patients' multiplicity of problems and the time to unravel these. Communication with this patient group appears limited. The actual care-giving Process requires HCP/VE a lot of creativity and time spent seeking for cooperation with other caregivers and appropriate care settings. The latter is often hindered by stigma. Since no formalized knowledge is available, care-delivery is often exclusively experience-based. Pain-medication is often ineffective due to active substance use. Finally, several Outcomes were brought forward: Firstly, a palliative care phase is often identified only at a late stage. Secondly, education and a (mobile) team of expertise are desired. Thirdly, care for the caregivers themselves is often de-prioritized.
CONCLUSIONS: Better integration and collaboration between the different professionals with extensive experience in addiction, palliative and general curative care is imperative to assure good palliative care for patients with SUD. Currently, the resources for this care appear to be insufficient. Development of an educational program and social mapping may be the first steps in improving palliative care for patients with severe SUD.
BACKGROUND: Systematic research into palliative care (PC) for people with substance use disorder (SUD) and multiple problems is scarce. The existing literature shows problems in the organizational structure of this care, e.g., lack of clear care pathways. Furthermore, negative attitudes of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and stigmatization surrounding SUD, and patients' care-avoidance and non-disclosure of substance use are hindering factors in providing timely and person-centered PC. Furthermore, the experiences and needs of patients and proxies themselves are unknown. Therefore, this study aims to explore which problems and needs patients with SUD and multiple problems, and their proxies, experience in a PC phase.
METHODS: Data-collection of this qualitative study consisted of semi-structured interviews with patients with SUD and multiple problems in a PC phase, and their proxies, about their experiences in PC and their well-being. Interviews were inductively analyzed.
RESULTS: Nine patients and three proxies were included. Six patients suffered from COPD, one patient from cirrhosis of the liver and two patients from both. Seven patients stayed in a nursing home and two had a room in either a social care service (hostel) or an assisted living home where medical care was provided. Five themes were identified: 1) healthcare delivery (including HCPs behaviour and values); 2) end-of-life (EOL) preferences (mostly concerning only the individual patient and the 'here-and-the-now'); 3) multidimensional problems; 4) coping (active and passive) and; 5) closed communication. Proxies' experiences with healthcare differed. Emotionally, they were all burdened by their histories with the patients.
CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that talking about and anticipating on PC with this patient-group appears hard due to patients' closed and avoiding communication. Furthermore, some of patients' EOL-preferences and needs, and coping-strategies, seem to differ from the more generally-accepted ideas and practices. Therefore, educating HCPs in communicating with this patient-group, is needed.
BACKGROUND: The specific palliative care needs and problems of patients with a substance use disorder and multiple problems, and those of their proxies, are under recognized. Besides, the organization of palliative care, including the division of health care professionals' responsibilities, is often unclear. Perspectives of patients and proxies are hardly known. We describe the outline of a study designed to explore how palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder is organized in the Netherlands and to explore problems and needs, as well as possible improvements from the healthcare professionals', patients' and proxies' perspective. The aim of this protocol paper is to provide insights in ways to conduct research with vulnerable research participants and to offer a detailed description of the study design. The broader study aims to gain insight in and formulate recommendations on how to improve palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder.
METHODS: A qualitative study with patients, proxies and healthcare professionals. Semi-structured interviews will be held with 10–15 patients who suffer from a severe substance use disorder. They are in a palliative care trajectory and either diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening disease or, as a result of addictive behavior, a physical deterioration without the prospect of cure. Semi-structured interviews will also be held with 5–10 proxies. Healthcare professionals, volunteers and/or ‘experts-by-experience’ (n = 24–40) will be participating in semi-structured group interviews. All (group) interviews will be thematically analyzed. Additionally, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis will be applied to the group interview data with the aim to summarize and concretize the findings.
DISCUSSION: Everyone has a right to an optimal end-of-life phase of life and a dignified dying process. This study will provide valuable knowledge about palliative care for patients with a substance use disorder and explicitly bring to light the needs and problems of the patients and their proxies and healthcare professionals in a palliative care phase.
BACKGROUND: Although examining perspectives of patients on integrated palliative care organisation is essential, available literature is largely based on administrative data or healthcare professionals' perspectives.
AIM: (1) Providing insight into the composition and quality of care networks of patients receiving palliative care and (2) describing perceived integration between healthcare professionals within these networks and its association with overall satisfaction.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional explorative design.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: We recruited 157 patients (62% cancer, 25% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 13% chronic heart failure, mean age 68 years, 55% female) from 23 integrated palliative care initiatives in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Hungary and the Netherlands.
RESULTS: About 33% reported contact with a palliative care specialist and 48% with a palliative care nurse. Relationships with palliative care specialists were rated significantly higher than other physicians (p < 0.001). Compared to patients with cancer, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (odds ratio = 0.16, confidence interval (0.04; 0.57)) and chronic heart failure (odds ratio = 0.11, confidence interval (0.01; 0.93)) had significantly lower odds of reporting contact with palliative care specialists and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (odds ratio = 0.23, confidence interval (0.08; 0.71)) had significantly lower odds of reporting contact with palliative care nurses. Perceptions of main responsible healthcare professionals or caregivers in patient’s care networks varied across countries. Perceived integration was significantly associated with overall satisfaction.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care professionals are not always present or recognised as such in patients' care networks. Expert palliative care involvement needs to be explicated especially for non-cancer patients. One healthcare professional should support patients in understanding and navigating their palliative care network. Patients seem satisfied with care provision as long as continuity of care is provided.
Due to aging Western societies, older patients suffering from incurable cancer will present themselves more often to health care professionals. To be of service to these severely ill elderly patients, more knowledge is needed on which life values are guiding them through their last phases of life. This review aims to describe which life values play an important part in the lives of elderly people suffering from incurable cancer. We conducted a literature review with a structured search to identify empirical studies (January 1950-February 2016) using six databases. The analysis of thirty articles resulted in the extensive description of eight life values: comfort, continuity, humility, dignity, honesty, optimism, hope and preparedness. Elderly patients suffering from incurable cancer use the abovementioned life values to give meaning to a life interrupted by disease. Furthermore, these values will play a role in communication and decision-making. Knowledge about life values can help professionals discuss and clarify personal preferences with elderly patients suffering from incurable cancer, contributing to more personalized care and treatment. Communication should focus on to what extent patient empowerment, life-prolonging treatment and the involvement of the patient's supporting systems suit the wishes of these patients.