Background: Patients with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic treatment is no longer available may be offered participation in early phase clinical trials. In the decision making process, both medical-technical information and patient values and preferences are important. Since patients report decisional conflict after deciding on participation in these trials, improving the decision making process is essential. We aim to develop and evaluate an Online Value Clarification Tool (OnVaCT) to assist patients in clarifying their values around this end-of-life decision. This improved sharing of values is hypothesized to support medical oncologists in tailoring their information to individual patients’ needs and, consequently, to support patients in taking decisions in line with their values and reduce decisional conflict.
Methods: In the first part, patients’ values and preferences and medical oncologists’ views hereupon will be explored in interviews and focus groups to build a first prototype OnVaCT using digital communication (serious gaming). Next, we will test feasibility during think aloud sessions, to deliver a ready-to-implement OnVaCT. In the second part, the OnVaCT, with accompanied training module, will be evaluated in a pre-test (12–18 months before implementation) post-test (12–18 months after implementation) study in three major Dutch cancer centres. We will include 276 patients (> 18 years) with advanced cancer for whom standard systemic therapy is no longer available, and who are referred for participation in early phase clinical trials. The first consultation will be recorded to analyse patient-physician communication regarding the discussion of patients’ values and the decision making process. Three weeks afterwards, decisional conflict will be measured.
Discussion: This project aims to support the discussion of patient values when considering participation in early phase clinical trials. By including patients before their first appointment with the medical oncologist and recording that consultation, we are able to link decisional conflict to the decision making process, e.g. the communication during consultation. The study faces challenges such as timely including patients within the short period between referral and first consultation. Furthermore, with new treatments being developed rapidly, molecular stratification may affect the patient populations included in the pre-test and post-test periods.
BACKGROUND: Developing recommendations for how we deliver healthcare is often left to leading experts in a field. Findings from the Integrated Palliative Care in cancer and chronic conditions (InSup-C) study, which aimed to identify best practice in integrated palliative care in cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure, led to recommendations developed through an expert consultation process. We also wanted to develop these recommendations further with participants who were largely clinicians and members of the public.
METHODS: Results from the InSup-C study were disseminated through a three-week massive open online course (MOOC) which ran in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The first course helped develop the final recommendations, which were ranked by MOOC participants in the subsequent courses. MOOC participants were predominantly clinicians, but also academics and members of the public. They rated how important each recommendation was on a 9 point scale (9 most important). Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the ratings. The results were compared to findings from the consultation.
RESULTS: Five hundred fifteen completed the last part of the course where the recommendations were ranked, of which 195 (38%) completed the ratings. The top recommendations related to: need to expand palliative care to non-malignant conditions; palliative care needs to include different dimensions of care including physical, psychological and spiritual; policies and regulations assessments should be made regularly; palliative care integration should be mandatory; and there should be greater availability of medicines. These differed compared to the top ranked recommendations by the consultation panel in relation to the importance of leadership and policy making. This may indicate that clinicians are more focused on daily care rather than the (inter) national agenda.
CONCLUSIONS: Whilst both sets of recommendations are important, our study shows that we need to include the views of clinicians and the public rather than rely upon leading expert opinion alone. To keep recommendations fresh we need both the input of clinicians, the public and experts. When disseminating findings, MOOCs offer a useful way to gain greater reach with clinicians and the public, and importantly could be a vehicle to validate recommendations made by leading expert panels.
BACKGROUND: Research requires high-quality ethical and governance scrutiny and approval. However, when research is conducted across different countries, this can cause challenges due to the differing ethico-legal framework requirements of ethical boards. There is no specific guidance for research which does not involve non-medicinal products.
AIM: To describe and address differences in ethical and research governance procedures applied by research ethics committees for non-pharmaceutical palliative care studies including adult participants in collaborative European studies.
DESIGN: An online survey analysed using descriptive statistics.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Eighteen principal investigators in 11 countries conducting one of three European-funded studies.
RESULTS: There was variation in practice including whether ethical approval was required. The time to gain full approvals differed with the United Kingdom having governance procedures that took the longest time. Written consent was not required in all countries nor were data safety monitoring committees for trials. There were additional differences in relation to other data management issues.
CONCLUSION: Researchers need to take the differences in research approval procedures into account when planning studies. Future research is needed to establish European-wide recommendations for policy and practice that dovetail ethical procedures and enhance transnational research collaborations.
As patients approach the end of life, they often experience a range of distressing symptoms and concerns such as pain, delirium, and breathlessness. Although most symptoms and concerns are amendable to pharmacological and/or nonpharmacological interventions, there may be some symptoms that are very difficult or impossible to treat or where available treatment options fail. These are called refractory symptoms because treatment (1) does not work, (2) the effects take too long to happen, or (3) the side effects are not acceptable to the patient. Refractory symptoms are not restricted to physical symptoms and, therefore, a multidimensional approach is needed to fully assess and manage the patient's condition. For example, existential suffering may be adding to the patient's physical suffering but can be particularly difficult to assess and manage. For this reason, the term intractable suffering is sometimes used. When conventional treatment options are no longer available and symptoms are considered refractory, the option of palliative sedation comes to the fore.
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.
Cet atlas présente les ressources pays par pays en matière de soins palliatifs : services pour adultes ou enfants, lits dédiés, composition et nombre d'équipes, tendance et objectifs des politiques nationales de santé des pays.
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 World Health Organisation (WHO) endorses integrated palliative care which has a significant impact on quality of life and satisfaction with care. Effective integration between hospices, palliative care services, hospitals and primary care services are required to support patients with palliative care needs. Studies have indicated that little is known about which aspects are regarded as most important and should be priorities for international implementation. The Integrated Palliative Care in cancer and chronic conditions (InSup-C) project, aimed to investigate integrated practices in Europe and to formulate requirements for effective palliative care integration. It aimed to develop recommendations, and to agree priorities, for integrated palliative care linked to the InSuP-C project.
METHODS: Transparent expert consultation was adopted at the approach used. Data were collected in two phases: 1) international transparent expert consultation using face-to-face roundtable discussions at a one day workshop in Brussels, and 2) via subsequent online cross-sectional survey where items were rated to indicate degree of agreement on their importance and ranked to indicate priority for implementation. Workshop discussions used content analysis to develop a list of 23 recommendations, which formed the survey questionnaire. Survey analysis used descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis of open responses.
RESULTS: Thirty-six international experts in palliative care and cancer care, including senior clinicians, researchers, leaders of relevant international organisations and funders, were invited to a face-to-face workshop. Data were collected from 33 (19 men, 14 women), 3 declined. They mostly came from European countries (31), USA (1) and Australia (1). Twenty one of them also completed the subsequent online survey (response rate 63%). We generated 23 written statements that were grouped into the organisational constructs: macro (10), meso (6) and micro (7) levels of integration of palliative care. Highest priority recommendations refer to education, leadership and policy-making, medium priority recommendations focused on funding and relationship-building, and lower priority recommendations related to improving systems and infrastructure.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that amongst a group of international experts there was overall good agreement on the importance of recommendations for integrated palliative care. Understanding expert's priorities is important and can guide practice, policymaking and future research.
Background: Patients with advanced diseases often experience deficient continuity of care. Although integrated palliative care promotes continuity of care, it is not clear how it can be optimized to improve continuity of care experiences.
Aim: To examine how relational, informational and management continuity of care are experienced by patients with advanced diseases and their family caregivers receiving care from several integrated palliative care initiatives in five European countries.
Design: We adopted a longitudinal qualitative study design including two interviews (interval 3 months) with patients and family caregivers focusing on how health care professionals responded to their needs. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis involved a two-step qualitative content approach.
Setting/participants: A total of 22 integrated palliative care initiatives (established local palliative care collaborations) were selected in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We recruited 152 patients (63% cancer, 24% chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 13% heart failure; life expectancy <1 year; mean age 68 years, 56% female) and 92 family caregivers (mean age 61 years, 66% female).
Results: Trusted relationships with a small number of key health care professionals to receive tailored care and easily access help were essential. Relational continuity was often deficient, especially with general practitioners. Although informational and management continuity was often lacking in care provision, collaborative integrated palliative care initiatives were related to consistent and coherent care.
Conclusion: Patients and family caregivers most likely experience continuity of care by having a small number of trusted health care professionals who are available, provide multidisciplinary care and regularly transfer information to all health care professionals involved. Optimizing continuity of care requires further integration of integrated palliative care initiatives with other health care professionals involved in the patients? care networks.
BACKGROUND: Family carers manage a wide range of responsibilities in the lives and care of patients receiving palliative care. They fulfil multiple roles and perform activities within different settings. This has immediate consequences on family carers' every-day lives. According to literature, family carers in palliative care are both part of the formal and informal care network, but also persons in need of support. This article aims to investigate 1) burdens and rewards associated with family caregiving and 2) what family carers find helpful in their contact with professionals from integrated palliative care initiatives (IPC-i) and other services.
METHODS: Family carers looking after patients with cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chronic heart failure were purposefully recruited at 22 IPC-i in Belgium, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the course of the project “Patient-centred palliative care pathways in advanced cancer and chronic disease” (InSup-C).
Semi-structured interviews (n = 156) and 87 quantitative questionnaires (CRA, POS, CANHELP Lite) were conducted with family carers. Interviews were analysed with transnationally agreed thematic codes (MAXQDA or NVivo). Statistical tests (SPSS) were carried out in accordance with the characteristic value of the items and distributions.
RESULTS: On average, quantitative data showed moderate burden, but the qualitative findings indicated that this burden might be underrated. There is some evidence that IPC-i with well-developed professional care networks and communication systems relieved family carers' burden by direct and indirect interventions; e.g. provision of night shift nurses or psychological support. Needs of family carers were similar in all participating countries. However, in all countries IPC-i mostly offered one-off events for family carers, lacking systematic or institutionalised support structures.
CONCLUSIONS: Data suggest that, most IPC-i did not pay enough attention to the needs of most family carers, and did not offer proactive care and access to supportive resources to them (e.g. training, respite care, access to resources). We recommend recognizing family carers as part of the 'unit of care' and partner in caregiving, to improve their knowledge about, and access to, and the support available.
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.
BACKGROUND: Integrated palliative care aims at improving coordination of palliative care services around patients' anticipated needs. However, international comparisons of how integrated palliative care is implemented across four key domains of integrated care (content of care, patient flow, information logistics and availability of (human) resources and material) are lacking.
AIM: To examine how integrated palliative care takes shape in practice across abovementioned key domains within several integrated palliative care initiatives in Europe.
DESIGN: Qualitative group interview design.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 19 group interviews were conducted (2 in Belgium, 4 in the Netherlands, 4 in the United Kingdom, 4 in Germany and 5 in Hungary) with 142 healthcare professionals from several integrated palliative care initiatives in five European countries. The majority were nurses (n = 66; 46%) and physicians (n = 50; 35%).
RESULTS: The dominant strategy for fostering integrated palliative care is building core teams of palliative care specialists and extended professional networks based on personal relationships, shared norms, values and mutual trust, rather than developing standardised information exchange and referral pathways. Providing integrated palliative care with healthcare professionals in the wider professional community appears difficult, as a shared proactive multidisciplinary palliative care approach is lacking, and healthcare professionals often do not know palliative care professionals or services.
CONCLUSION: Achieving better palliative care integration into regular healthcare and convincing the wider professional community is a difficult task that will take time and effort. Enhancing standardisation of palliative care into education, referral pathways and guidelines and standardised information exchange may be necessary. External authority (policy makers, insurance companies and professional bodies) may be needed to support integrated palliative care practices across settings.
BACKGROUND: Effective integration between hospices, palliative care services and other local health care services to support patients with palliative care needs is an important international priority. A previous model suggests that integration involves a cumulative stepped process of engagement with other organisations labelled as 'support, supplant or supplement', but the extent to which this model currently applies in the United Kingdom is unknown. We aimed to investigate accounts of hospice integration with local health care providers, using the framework provided by the model, to determine how service users and healthcare professionals perceived palliative care services and the extent of integration experienced.
METHODS: Longitudinal organisational case study methods were employed using qualitative serial interviews (interval 3 months) with patients and family carers focusing on how services responded to their needs; and group interviews with health professionals. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analysed by qualitative content analysis and combined across data sources.
RESULTS: The study focused on four hospices in northern England, including 34 patients (diagnosis: 17 cancer, 10 COPD, 7 heart failure), 65% female, mean age 66 (range 44-89), 13 family carers of these patients (48% partners), and 23 health care professionals. While some care fell short of expectations, all patients reported high levels of satisfaction and valued continuity of care and efficient information sharing. All hospices supported and supplemented local providers, with three hospices also supplanting local provision by providing in-patient facilities.
CONCLUSION: UK hospices predominantly operate in ways that support and supplement other providers. In addition, some also supplant local services, taking over direct responsibility and funding in-patient care. They all contributed to integration with local services, with greater blurring of boundaries than defined by the original model. Integrated care offers the necessary flexibility to respond to changes in patient needs, however, constraints from funding drivers and a lack of clear responsibilities in the UK can result in shortfalls in optimal service delivery. Integrating hospice care with local healthcare services can help to address demographic changes, predominantly more frail older people, and disease factors, including the needs of those with non-malignant conditions. This model, tested in the UK, could serve as an example for other countries.
BACKGROUND: There is a notable inequity in access to palliative care (PC) services between cancer and Chronic Heart Failure (CHF)/Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients which also translates into discrepancies in the level of integration of PC. By cross-examining the levels of PC integration in published guidelines/pathways for CHF/COPD and cancer in Europe, this study examines whether these discrepancies may be attributed to the content of the guidelines.
DESIGN: A quantitative evaluation was made between integrated PC in published guidelines for cancer and CHF/COPD in Europe. The content of integrated PC in guidelines/pathways was measured using an 11 point integrated PC criteria tool (IPC criteria). A statistical analysis was carried out to detect similarities and differences in the level of integrated PC between the two groups.
RESULTS: The levels of integration between CHF/COPD and cancer guidelines/pathways have been shown to be statistically similar. Moreover, the quality of evidence utilized and the date of development of the guidelines/pathways appear not to impact upon the PC integration in the guidelines.
CONCLUSION: In Europe, the empirically observed imbalance in integration of PC for patients with cancer and CHF/COPD may only partially be attributed to the content of the guidelines/pathways that are utilized for the PC implementation. Given the similarities detected between cancer and CHF/COPD, other barriers appear to play a more prominent role.
Background: Palliative care (PC) development is diverse and lacks an effective integration into European healthcare systems. This article investigates levels of integrated PC in European countries.
Methods: A qualitative survey was undertaken for the 2013 EAPC Atlas of PC in Europe with boards of national associations, eliciting opinions on opportunities for, and barriers to, PC development.
Analysis: Barriers and opportunities directly related to PC integration were identified and analyzed thematically according (1) to the dimensions of the World Health Organization (WHO) public health model and (2) by the degree of service provision in each country. A frequency analysis of dimensions and level of provision was also conducted.
Results: In total, 48/53 (91%) European countries responded to the survey. A total of 43 barriers and 65 opportunities were identified as being related to PC integration. Main barriers were (1) lack of basic PC training, with a particular emphasis on the absence of teaching at the undergraduate level; (2) lack of official certification for professionals; (3) lack of coordination and continuity of care for users and providers; (4) lack of PC integration for noncancer patients; (5) absence of PC from countries' regulatory frameworks; and (6) unequal laws or regulations pertaining to PC within countries. Innovations in education and new regulatory frameworks were identified as main opportunities in some European countries, in addition to opportunities around the implementation of PC in home care, nursing home settings, and the earlier integration of PC into patients' continuum of care. With increasing provision of services, more challenges for the integration are detected (p < 0.005).
Conclusion: A set of barriers and opportunities to PC integration has been identified across Europe, by national associations, offering a barometer against which to check the challenge of integration across countries.
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.
Objective: In Europe, volunteers have an important role in the delivery of palliative care. As part of the EU co-funded Europall project, 4 aspects of volunteering in palliative care were studied for 7 European countries (Belgium, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain). These included (1) involvement of volunteers in palliative care, (2) organization of palliative care volunteering, (3) legal regulations concerning volunteering, and (4) education and training of palliative care volunteering.
Design/Setting/Methods: A literature search combined with an interview study. Information from the scientific literature, and country-specific policy documents were obtained and completed, along with data of consecutive semi-structured interviews with experts in the field of palliative care in the participating countries.
Results: In all countries, volunteers appeared to be involved in palliative care, yet their involvement across health care settings differed per country. England, for example, has the highest number of volunteers whereas Spain has the lowest number. Volunteering is embedded in law and regulations in all participating countries except for England and the Netherlands. In all participating countries, training programs are available and volunteers are organized, both on a national and a regional level.
Conclusion: This study provides a descriptive overview of volunteer work in palliative care in 7 European countries, with a focus on the organizational aspects. Further research should concentrate on the roles and responsibilities of volunteers in the care for the terminally ill in different European health systems.
En 2005, l'Association médicale royale hollandaise a édité une directive nationale sur la sédation en soins palliatifs. Cependant son utilisation reste controversée et une étude récente a montré qu'elle augmente alors que le recours à l'euthanasie diminue. Aux Pays-Bas, les médecins qui exercent en établissements d'accueil pour personnes âgées ont suivi une formation spécialisée. Parmi eux, 1 254 ont reçu un questionnaire sur leur pratique et 675 (soit 56 %) ont renvoyé leur réponse. A partir de celles-ci, 316 cas de sédation continue ont été décrits. Ils concernent surtout des femmes très âgées souffrant de cancer ou de démence. Chez 82 % des patients la sédation continue était utilisée pour traiter deux symptômes réfractaires ou plus (la douleur, l'anxiété, l'épuisement ou la dyspnée). L'étude met aussi en évidence des différences, notamment dans l'espérance de vie, entre les personnes cancéreuses ou démentes.
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