Importance: Palliative care has shown benefits in reducing symptom intensity and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer. However, high-quality evidence to support palliative care policy and service developments for patients with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) is lacking.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a short-term integrated palliative care (SIPC) intervention for people with LTNCs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Multicenter, phase 3, randomized clinical trial conducted from April 1, 2015, to November 30, 2017, with a last follow-up date of May 31, 2018, in 7 UK hospitals with both neurology and palliative care services. A total of 535 patients with LTNC were assessed for eligibility and 350 were randomized. Inclusion criteria were patients 18 years or older with any advanced stage of multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, idiopathic Parkinson disease multiple system atrophy, or progressive supranuclear palsy. Data were analyzed from November 2018 to March 2019.
Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 using minimization method to receive SIPC (intervention, n = 176) or standard care (control, n = 174).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcome was change in 8 key palliative care symptoms from baseline to 12-weeks, measured by the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale for neurological conditions. Secondary outcomes included change in the burden of other symptoms, health-related quality of life, caregiver burden, and costs. Data were collected and analyzed blindly by intention to treat.
Results: A total of 350 patients (mean [SD] age 67  years; years since diagnosis, 12 [range, 0-56]; 51% men; 49% requiring considerable assistance) with an advanced stage of LTNC were recruited, along with informal caregivers (n = 229). There were no between-group differences in primary outcome (effect size, -0.16; 95% CI, -0.37 to 0.05), any other patient-reported outcomes, adverse events, or survival. Although there was more symptom reduction in the SIPC group in relation to mean change in primary outcome, the difference between the groups was not statistically significant (-0.78; 95% CI, -1.29 to -0.26 vs -0.28; 95% CI, -0.82 to 0.26; P = .14). There was a decrease in mean health and social care costs from baseline to 12 weeks -$1367 (95% CI, -$2450 to -$282) in the SIPC group and -653 (95% CI, -$1839 to -$532) in the control group, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = .12). SIPC was perceived by patients and caregivers as building resilience, attending to function and deficits, and enabling caregivers.
Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, SIPC was not statistically significantly different from standard care for the patient-reported outcomes. However, SIPC was associated with lower cost, and in qualitative analysis was well-received by patients and caregivers, and there were no safety concerns. Further research is warranted.
INTRODUCTION: The collaboration between palliative care and neurology has developed over the last 25 years and this study aimed to ascertain the collaboration between the specialties across Europe.
METHODS: This online survey aimed to look at collaboration across Europe, using the links of the European Association for Palliative Care and the European Academy of Neurology.
RESULTS: 298 people completed the survey-178 from palliative care and 120 from neurology from over 20 countries across Europe. They reported that there was good collaboration in the care for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and cerebral tumours but less for other progressive neurological diseases. The collaboration included joint meetings and clinics and telephone contacts. All felt that the collaboration was helpful, particularly for maintaining quality of life, physical symptom management, psychological support and complex decision making, including ethical issues.
DISCUSSION: The study shows evidence for collaboration between palliative care and neurology, but with the need to develop this for all neurological illness, and there is a need for increased education of both areas.
BACKGROUND: People with serious mental illness have greater mortality risk than the general population. They experience health care inequalities throughout life; it is not clear if this persists to end of life.
AIM: Assess the empirical evidence describing end-of-life care and place of death for people with serious mental illness.
DESIGN: A systematic review of original, peer-reviewed research, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Data were analysed using a narrative synthesis approach.
DATA SOURCES: Five online databases (Embase, PsycArticles, PsycINFO, Medline, PubMed) and additional sources were searched (without time restriction) for primary research reporting health care utilisation in the last year of life or place of death in adults with serious mental illness.
RESULTS: After full-text screening, 23 studies were included. We found studies reporting hospital admissions, emergency department care, palliative care, and general practitioner (GP) visits at end of life. We found conflicting evidence for the association between serious mental illness and end-of-life care, although different patient groups, settings and measures were used across studies. People with serious mental illness were more likely to die in care homes than the general population. There were no patterns for other places of death.
CONCLUSIONS: The evidence was sparse and heterogeneous, demonstrating variability in patterns and reporting of health care use and with little consensus on where people with serious mental illness are likely to die. Given that people with serious mental illness have increased mortality risk, this gap in the knowledge around end-of-life care outcomes is concerning; this area of research needs further development.
Long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) often cause debilitating symptoms. Better understanding of symptom dimensions in LTNCs is needed to support health professionals and improve care. This can be achieved by exploring the factor structure of a standardised measure of symptoms in LTNC patients. The symptom subscale of the Integrated Palliative Outcome Scale for LTNCs (IPOS Neuro-S24) comprises 24 items measuring symptom severity. Descriptive statistics and psychometric properties of the scale were assessed, followed by differential item functioning (DIF), exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). Data from N = 238 patients were analysed. The mean IPOS Neuro S-24 score was 27.0 (possible range 0–96) and floor effects were found for 21 items. The scale had good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.77). Weak evidence of DIF was found for nine items. All but one item (falls) loaded onto four factors with loadings > 0.3. The factors represented four clinically meaningful symptom dimensions: fatigue, motor symptoms, oral problems and non-motor symptoms. We identified a reliable four-factor structure of symptom experience in LTNC patients. The results suggest that symptom dimensions are common across LTNCs. The IPOS Neuro S-24 is an appropriate tool to measure symptoms in LTNC patients, which may improve care.
BACKGROUND: End-stage liver disease is a common cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, yet little is known about its symptomatology and impact on health-related quality of life.
AIM: To describe symptom prevalence and health-related quality of life of patients with end-stage liver disease to improve care.
DESIGN: Systematic review.
DATA SOURCES: We searched eight electronic databases from January 1980 to June 2018 for studies investigating symptom prevalence or health-related quality of life of adult patients with end-stage liver disease. No language restrictions were applied. Meta-analyses were performed where appropriate.
RESULTS: We included 80 studies: 35 assessing symptom prevalence, 41 assessing health-related quality of life, and 4 both. The instruments assessing symptoms varied across studies. The most frequently reported symptoms were as follows: pain (prevalence range 30%–79%), breathlessness (20%–88%), muscle cramps (56%–68%), sleep disturbance (insomnia 26%–77%, daytime sleepiness 29.5%–71%), and psychological symptoms (depression 4.5%–64%, anxiety 14%–45%). Erectile dysfunction was prevalent (53%–93%) in men. The health-related quality of life of patients with end-stage liver disease was significantly impaired when compared to healthy controls or patients with chronic liver disease. Compared with compensated cirrhosis, decompensation led to significant worsening of both components of the 36-Item Short Form Survey although to a larger degree for the Physical Component Summary score (decrease from average 6.4 (95% confidence interval: 4.0–8.8); p < 0.001) than for the Mental Component Summary score (4.5 (95% confidence interval: 2.4–6.6); p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: The symptom prevalence of patients with end-stage liver disease resembled that of patients with other advanced conditions. Given the diversity of symptoms and significantly impaired health-related quality of life, multidisciplinary approach and timely intervention are crucial.
OBJECTIVES: Evaluations of new services for palliative care in non-cancer conditions are few. OPTCARE Neuro is a multicentre trial evaluating the effectiveness of short-term integrated palliative care (SIPC) for progressive long-term neurological conditions. Here, we present survey results describing the current levels of collaboration between neurology and palliative care services and exploring the views of professionals towards the new SIPC service.
METHODS: Neurology and palliative care teams from six UK trial sites (London, Nottingham, Liverpool, Cardiff, Brighton and Chertsey) were approached via email to complete an online survey. The survey was launched in July 2015 and consisted of multiple choice or open comment questions with responses collected using online forms.
RESULTS: 33 neurology and 26 palliative care professionals responded. Collaborations between the two specialties were reported as being "good/excellent" by 36% of neurology and by 58% of palliative care professionals. However, nearly half (45%) of neurology compared with only 12% of palliative care professionals rated current levels as being "poor/none". Both professional groups felt that the new SIPC service would influence future collaborations for the better. However, they identified a number of barriers for the new SIPC service such as resources and clinician awareness.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results demonstrate the opportunity to increase collaboration between neurology and palliative care services for people with progressive neurological conditions, and the acceptability of SIPC as a model to support this.
BACKGROUND: Implementation fidelity is critical in evaluating effectiveness of interventions.
AIM: Identifying and summarising strategies to improve and assess the level of reporting of implementation fidelity in randomised controlled trials of palliative care complex interventions.
DESIGN: Systematic review.
DATA SOURCES: Published and completed randomised controlled trials from 2000 to current evaluating effectiveness of specialised palliative care services on patient-centred outcomes in adult patients were examined. MEDLINE was searched from 2008 to 29 September 2015 and supplemented by randomised controlled trials identified in a 2008 systematic review.
RESULTS: Altogether, 20 randomised controlled trials involving 8426 patients were reviewed using 40 subcomponents of five elements of implementation fidelity (resulting in 20 × 40 = 800 items). Over 88 strategies were identified, classified under the following elements: "treatment design", "training providers", "delivery of treatment", "receipt of treatment" and "enactment of treatment skills". No single overarching strategy was discovered. Strategies under ‘treatment design’ aimed to ensure equivalent treatment dose between and within intervention and control groups, and delivery of necessary ingredients. Ongoing "training (of) providers" included supervision and ensuring skill acquisition. Use of treatment manuals and implementation checklists aimed to aid "delivery of treatment". Research teams aimed to improve ‘receipt of treatment’ by transmitting clear information and verifying understanding, while improving ‘enactment of treatment skills’ by reviewing and reinforcing prior content. Only 26% of the items received sufficient reporting; 34% were either not used or reported on.
CONCLUSION: Implementation fidelity in palliative care is under-recognised. A table to collate these strategies to improve implementation fidelity in palliative care research and clinical practice is proposed.