CONTEXT: Hospice care focuses on improving the quality of end-of-life care and respecting patients' preferences regarding end-of-life treatment. The impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the utilization of hospice services is unknown.
OBJECTIVES: To investigate the utilization of hospice care services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS: All patients (n = 19,900) cared for at Taipei City Hospital from January 2019 to April 2020 were divided into three time points: January-April 2019 (before COVID-19), May-December 2019 (interim), and January-April 2020 (during COVID-19). This cohort study compared the monthly utilization of hospice services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
RESULTS: There was no significant difference in hospice home visits (194 vs. 184; P = 0.686) and new enrollments (15 vs. 14; P = 0.743) to hospice home care before and during the pandemic. However, the bed occupancy rate in hospice units in the hospital was significantly reduced from 66.2% before the pandemic to 37.4% during the pandemic (P = 0.029), whereas that in non-hospice units had a non-significant decrease from 81.6% before the pandemic to 71.8% during the pandemic (P = 0.086). During the pandemic, the number of inpatient days in hospice units was affected more severely than in non-hospice units (-42.4% vs.-10.9%; P = 0.029).
CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that hospice home care services were maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the utilization of hospice inpatient care services reduced. Home care for hospice patients is an essential component of palliative care during a pandemic.
Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the trends of utilization of palliative care and aggressive end-of-life care for patients who died of cancers and those who died of non-cancer diseases in hospitals.
Methods: The medical records of patients who died in a public hospital due to cancer or other diseases were reviewed. The proportion of those who received palliative care, admitted to intensive care unit (ICU) within 30 days of death, died in ICU, and received cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) within 3 days of death in 2013–2014, 2015–2016, and 2017–2018, respectively, was investigated. Multivariate logistic regression was applied to evaluate the independent effects of various factors on the risk of receiving aggressive end-of-life care.
Results: Significant trends of increase in receiving palliative care were found. The proportion of patients who died of non-cancer diseases and received palliative care was lower than that of those who died of cancers. Palliative care was associated with a reduced risk of ICU admission within 30 days of death (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 0.361), death in ICU (AOR: 0.208), and receiving CPR within 3 days of death (AOR: 0.057). Patients who died of non-cancer diseases had a higher risk of ICU admission within 30 days of death (AOR: 5.016), death in ICU (AOR: 5.086), and receiving CPR within 3 days of death (AOR: 3.274).
Conclusion: Utilization of palliative care is increasing. Patients who died of non-cancer diseases received less palliative care but more aggressive end-of-life care than those who died of cancers.
Objectives: Little is known about the experience of family caregivers of patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV). We examined the perspectives of caregivers of patients who died after PMV to explore the role of palliative care and the quality of dying and death (QODD) in patients and understand the psychological symptoms of these caregivers.
Methods: A longitudinal study was performed in five hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan. Routine palliative care family conferences and optional consultation with a palliative care specialist were provided, and family caregivers were asked to complete surveys.
Results: In total, 136 family caregivers of 136 patients receiving PMV were recruited and underwent face-to-face baseline interviews in 2016–2017. By 2018, 61 (45%) of 136 patients had died. We successfully interviewed 30 caregivers of patients’ death to collect information on the QODD of patients and administer the Impact of Event Scale (IES), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale to caregivers. We observed that more frequent palliative care family conferences were associated with poorer QODD in patients (coefficients: -44.04% and 95% CIs -75.65 to -12.44), and more psychological symptoms among caregivers (coefficient: 9.77% and 95% CI 1.63 to 17.90 on CES-D and coefficient: 7.67% and 95% CI 0.78 to 14.55 on HADS). A higher caregiver burden at baseline correlated with lower psychological symptoms (coefficient: -0.35% and 95% CI -0.58 to -0.11 on IES and coefficient: -0.22% and 95% CI -0.40 to -0.05 on CES-D) among caregivers following the patients’ death. Caregivers’ who accepted the concept of palliative care had fewer psychological symptoms after patients’ death (coefficient: -3.29% and 95% CI -6.32 to -0.25 on IES and coefficient: -3.22% and 95% CI -5.24 to -1.20 on CES-D).
Conclusions: Palliative care conferences were more common among family members with increased distress. Higher caregiver burden and caregiver acceptance of palliative care at baseline both predicted lower levels of caregiver distress after death.
Objective: The ‘surprise question’ (SQ) and the palliative care screening tool (PCST) are the common assessment tools in the early identification of patients requiring palliative care. However, the comparison of their prognostic accuracies has not been extensively studied. This study aimed to compare the prognostic accuracy of SQ and PCST in terms of recognising patients nearing end of life (EOL) and those appropriate for palliative care.
Methods: This prospective study used both the SQ and PCST to predict patients’ 12-month mortality and identified those appropriate for palliative care. All adult patients admitted to Taipei City Hospital in 2015 were included in this cohort study. The c-statistic value was calculated to indicate the predictive accuracies of the SQ and PCST.
Results: Out of 21 109 patients, with a mean age of 62.8 years, 12.4% and 11.1% had a SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4, respectively. After controlling for other covariates, an SQ response of ‘no’ and a PCST score of =4 were the independent predictors of 12-month mortality. The c-statistic values of the SQ and PCST at recognising patients in their last year of life were 0.680 and 0.689, respectively. When using a combination of both SQ and PCST in predicting patients’ 12-month mortality risk, the predictive value of the c-statistic increased to 0.739 and was significantly higher than either one in isolation (p<0.001).
Conclusion: A combination of the SQ with PCST has better prognostic accuracy than either one in isolation.
Context: Universal screening to identify vulnerable patients who may receive limited benefits from life-sustaining treatments can facilitate palliative care in dialysis populations.
Objectives: We aimed to develop prediction models for 1-year mortality in peritoneal dialysis patients.
Methods: This prospective cohort study included 401 adult Taiwanese prevalent peritoneal dialysis patients (average age 56.2 ± 14 years). In addition to obtaining clinical characteristics and laboratory data, the primary care nurses evaluated the “surprise question” and “palliative care screening tool” for each patient in March 2015. Multivariate logistic regression models were conducted to predict the primary outcome of 1-year all-cause mortality.
Results: There were 34 (8.5%) patients who died during the first year of follow-up. Patients allocated to the “not surprised” group according to the surprise question and those who received a score = 4 on the palliative care screening tool had increased odds of death [odds ratio 24.68 (95% CI 10.66 - 57.13) and 12.18 (95% CI 5.66 - 26.21), respectively]. We also developed a clinical risk model for 1-year mortality that included sex, dialysis vintage, coronary artery disease, malignancy, normalized protein nitrogen appearance, white blood cell count, and serum albumin and sodium levels. Integrating the surprise question, palliative care screening tool, and clinical risk model exhibited good discrimination with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.95. Kaplan-Meier analysis showed worse survival in high risk patients predicted by the integrated model (log-rank P<.001).
Conclusion: screening with the use of the integrated measurement can identify high-risk peritoneal dialysis patients. This approach may facilitate palliative care interventions for at-risk the subpopulations.
BACKGROUND: An increasing number of patients with terminal illnesses prefer to die in their own homes due to aging, high medical payments, a limited number of hospitalization days, and the ability to receive care from family members. However, few studies have been conducted on the subjective perception and value of caregivers for home-based palliative care (HBPC).
OBJECTIVE: To identify common themes and topics of primary family caregivers' lived experiences with HBPC when taking care of terminally ill family members.
METHODS: We conducted audio-recorded transcripts of one-on-one in-depth interviews of primary family caregivers of HBPC. Through a purposive sampling method, the participants were all interviewed; these interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using a grounded theory approach.
RESULTS: A total of 22 primary family caregivers participated in the study. "Wholeheartedly accompanying one's family to the end of life at home" was the core category. Six main themes describing caregivers' experiences emerged from the interviews: (1) learning the basic skills of end-of-life home care, (2) arranging the sharing and rotation of care, (3) preparing for upcoming deaths and funerals, (4) negotiating the cultural and ethical issues of end-of-life home care, (5) ensuring a comfortable life with basic life support, and (6) maintaining care characterized by concern, perseverance, and patience.
CONCLUSIONS: Primary family caregivers of HBPC need support and must learn home care skills by means of the holistic approach. It is crucial to establish assessment tools for caregivers' preparedness for HBPC, including biopsychosocial and cultural considerations.
Context: Programs identifying patients needing palliative care and promoting advance care planning (ACP) are rare in Asia.
Objectives: This interventional cohort study aimed to identify hospitalized patients with palliative care needs using a validated Palliative Care Screening Tool (PCST), examine the ability of the PCST to predict mortality, and explore effects of a pragmatic ACP program targeted by PCST on the utilisation of life-sustaining treatment during the last three months of life.
Methods: In this prospective study, we used PCST to evaluate patients’ palliative care needs between 2015 and 2016 and followed patients for 3 months. ACP with advance directives (AD) were systematically offered to all patients with PCST score =4.
Results: Of 47,153 hospitalized patients, 10.4% had PCST score =4. During follow-up, 2,121 individuals died within three months of palliative care screening: 1,225 (25.0%) with PCST score =4 and 896 (2.1%) with PCST score <4. After controlling for co-variates, PCST score =4 was significantly associated with a higher mortality within 3 months of screening (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 6.86; 95% confident interval [CI], 6.16-7.63). Moreover, ACP consultation (AOR=0.78, 95%CI: (0.66-0.92) and AD completion (AOR=0.49, 95%CI: 0.36-0.65) were associated with a lower likelihood of receiving life-sustaining treatments during the last 3 months of life.
Conclusions: We demonstrated the feasibility of implementing a comprehensive palliative care program to identify patients with palliative care needs and promote ACP and AD in East Asia. ACP consultation and AD completion were associated with reduced utilization of life-sustaining treatments during the last 3 months of life.
BACKGROUND: In recent decades, issues related to end-of-life care and advance care planning (ACP) have attracted popular attention. Advance care planning has been broadly discussed as one of the potential solutions to protect a patient's rights, autonomy, and dignity at the end of life. To better understand publishing on this topic, we conducted this study to demonstrate the worldwide research productivity, trends, and citations of ACP in the past 3 decades by bibliometric analysis.
METHODS: Articles published on ACP were retrieved from the Web of Science Core Collection database, and the subject terms included "advance directive," or "advance care planning."
RESULTS: Overall, 2126 publications on ACP were retrieved until January 22, 2019. North America, Western Europe, and Australia were the most productive regions. The top 15 countries published 95.9% of the total number of articles. The United States accounted for approximately three-fifths (61.0%) of all publications. When adjusted for population size, Australia had the highest number of articles per million persons (6.64), followed by the Netherlands (6.14) and Belgium (4.61). The most productive authors were Sudore (n = 37), Deliens (n = 29), and Green (n = 24).
CONCLUSIONS: The current study revealed that research in terms of publications on ACP has rapidly increased over the past 3 decades. Developed countries, especially the United States, were more concerned with the ACP research field than developing countries were.
CONTEXT: Evidence is mixed regarding the impact of advance directives (ADs) on the utilization of end-of-life treatments.
OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the effect of AD on the utilization of end-of-life treatments during the last month of life in older patients.
METHODS: Taipei City Hospital initiated an advance care planning program to promote AD for admitted patients in 2015. This prospective study recruited deceased older patients who completed advance care planning communication between 2015 and 2016. Multiple logistic regression was used to determine the association of AD completion with utilization of life-sustaining treatments.
RESULTS: Of 1307 deceased older patients, overall mean age was 84.1 years and 78.7% of the subjects had AD completion. During the study follow-up period, 31 older patients received life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life, including 17 patients (1.7%) with AD completion and 14 patients (5.0%) without AD completion. After adjusting for the sociodemographic factors and co-morbidities, older patients with AD completion were less likely to receive life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 0.32, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.16-0.67). Considering type of life-sustaining treatments, AD completion was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR = 0.21, 95% CI: 0.06-0.70) as well as intubation and mechanical ventilation support (AOR = 0.32, 95% CI: 0.14-0.70) during the last month of life in older patients.
CONCLUSION: AD completion was associated with a lower likelihood of receiving life-sustaining treatments during the last month of life in older patients. These findings support the continued use of AD in older population.
The effect of hospice care on place of death among centenarians remained unexplored. Using data obtained from National Health Insurance Research Database (2002-2010), we compared the differences in place and cause of death between centenarians and noncentenarians. These data were stratified into centenarian (n = 2495) and noncentenarian (n = 820 563) death. Data in place and cause of death and hospice care interventions were retrieved. Poisson regression models were used to evaluate factors associated with the centenarians' place of death. Time series models were used to predict the number of centenarian deaths until 2025. Most (63.8%) of the centenarians died at their own homes, followed by 30.5% who died in hospital. Hospice home care was involved in only 0.3% of the centenarian deaths but in 1.8% of the noncentenarian deaths. The leading causes of death among centenarians were respiratory diseases (16.6%), circulatory diseases (15.2%), and pneumonia (14.8%). Among the centenarians, those who died of circulatory disease, old age, and respiratory diseases were more likely to die at their own homes. We forecasted the number of annual centenarian deaths to reach 800 in 2025. Therefore, an increase in the provision of advanced care planning and earlier home hospice care intervention may enable centenarians to die at their own residence.
BACKGROUND: The scientific contributions (publications) and international influence (citations) from authors providing the palliative care (PC)-related literature has a limited number of bibliometric reports. We aimed to analyze PC-related literature using the Institute for Scientific Information Web of Science (WoS) database.
METHODS: WoS database was used to retrieve publications with the following key words with title: "palliative care" OR "End of Life care" OR "terminal care.". The statistical analysis of the documents published during 2001 to 2016 was performed. The quantity and quality of research were assessed by the number of total publications and citation analysis. In addition, we also analyzed whether there were possible correlations between publication and socioeconomic factors.
RESULTS: The total research output was 6273 articles for PC. There was a 3-fold increase in the number of publications during the period and strong correlation between the year and number of PC-related publications ( R2 = .96). The United States took a leading position in PC research (2448, 39.0%). The highest average citations was reported for the Norway (21.8). Australia had gained the highest productive ability in PC research (24.9 of articles per million populations). The annual impact factor rose progressively with time and increased 1.13 to 2.24 from 2003 to 2016. The number of publications correlated with gross domestic product ( r = .74; P < .001).
CONCLUSION: The United States and United Kingdom contributed most of the publications, but some East Asian countries also had a great performance. According to the socioeconomic factors, the publication capacity of top 20 countries is correlated with their economic scale.
BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: Very few studies have investigated the screening tools that aim to identify the need of palliative care services among patients with advanced cancer or chronic non-malignant diseases. This study validated the one-page Taiwanese version-Palliative Care Screening Tool (TW-PCST) for screening inpatients with potential palliative care needs.
METHOD: ROC curves were produced to examine the sensitivities and specificities at varying cut-off points. The optimal cut-off value to predict mortality was justified using the Youden's index. The screening was conducted on the first day of admission. Patients were prospectively followed-up after the baseline assessment. Three followed-up periods, namely 14 days, 90 days, and 180 days were analyzed.
RESULTS: A total of 21,596 patients were screened. AUCs for all cut-off scores varied from 0.84 to 0.88. A total-ABCD score =2 gave the highest Youden’s index for 90 days and 180 days follow-up periods. The optimal cut-point for 14 days was score =3.
CONCLUSIONS: The TW-PCST demonstrated a good sensitivity and specificity in identification of inpatients with palliative care needs. A total-ABCD score =2 may be considered as a trigger for further referral.
BACKGROUND: Even though no evidence suggests tube feeding is beneficial for individuals with advanced dementia, many are still tube fed.
OBJECTIVE: To assess perceptions of hospital staff regarding reducing tube feeding (RTF) of patients with advanced dementia.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: A regional teaching hospital in Taipei, Taiwan.
SUBJECTS: Hospital staff (n = 624), including physicians, nurses, dieticians, paramedical personnel, social workers, volunteers, attendants, and administrators.
MEASUREMENTS: Anonymous questionnaires.
RESULTS: The overall awareness of RTF for advanced dementia patients averaged 10.2 ± 3.74 points (maximum, 19 points) among all respondents. Among the different hospital professions, dieticians scored the highest, whereas nurses and attendants/volunteers had relatively low scores. Over half of respondents (57%) agreed tube feeding is the best choice for advanced dementia with dysphagia. Physicians of different specialties had significantly different responses toward RTF with regard to the belief that tube feeding reduces the risk of aspiration pneumonia, referring patients who refuse tube feeding to other health care team members, and the belief that family members would be able to accept the patient's death along with insufficient food/fluid intake. Only 35.1% of respondents believed they were able to implement comfort feeding.
CONCLUSIONS: The present survey shows a persistent knowledge gap among various health care professions regarding tube feeding of patients with advanced dementia. Also, there is insufficient awareness about this subject, indicating that promotion of comfort feeding by enhanced training and communication within medical teams is essential to achieving better person-centered care and preventing unnecessary suffering.
BACKGROUND: Although advance directives (AD) have been implemented for years in western countries, the concept of AD is not promoted extensively in eastern countries. In this study we evaluate a program to systematically conduct advance care planning (ACP) communication for hospitalized patients in Taiwan and identify the factors associated with AD completion.
METHODS: In this retrospective evaluation of a clinical ACP program, we identified adult patients with chronic life-limiting illness admitted to Taipei City Hospital between April 2015 and January 2016. Trained healthcare providers held an ACP meeting to discuss patients' preference regarding end-of-life care and AD completion. A multiple logistic regression was performed to determine the factors associated with the AD completion.
RESULTS: A total of 2878 patients were determined to be eligible for ACP during the study, among which 1798 (62.5%) completed ACP and data was available for 1411 patients (49.1%). Of the 1411 patients who received ACP communication with complete data, the rate of AD completion was 82.6%. The overall mean (SD) age was 78.2 (14.4) years. Adjusting for other variables, AD completion was associated with patients aged = 85 years [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.80, 95% CI 1.21–2.67], critical illness (AOR = 1.17, 95% CI 1.06–1.30), and social workers participating in ACP meetings (AOR = 1.74, 95% CI 1.24–2.45).
CONCLUSION: The majority of inpatients with chronic life-limiting illness had ACP communication as part of this ACP program and over 80% completed an AD. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of implementing ACP discussion in East Asia and suggests that social workers may be an important component of ACP communication with patients.
Awareness of factors affecting the place of death could improve communication between healthcare providers and patients and their families regarding patient preferences and the feasibility of dying in the preferred place.This study aimed to evaluate factors predicting home death among home palliative care recipients.This is a population-based study using a national representative sample retrieved from the National Health Insurance Research Database. Subjects receiving home palliative care, from 2010 to 2012, were analyzed to evaluate the association between a home death and various characteristics related to illness, individual, and health care utilization. A multiple-logistic regression model was used to assess the independent effect of various characteristics on the likelihood of a home death.The overall rate of a home death for home palliative care recipients was 43.6%. Age; gender; urbanization of the area where the patients lived; illness; the total number of home visits by all health care professionals; the number of home visits by nurses; utilization of nasogastric tube, endotracheal tube, or indwelling urinary catheter; the number of emergency department visits; and admission to intensive care unit in previous 1 year were not significantly associated with the risk of a home death. Physician home visits increased the likelihood of a home death. Compared with subjects without physician home visits (31.4%) those with 1 physician home visit (53.0%, adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 3.23, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.93-5.42) and those with =2 physician home visits (43.9%, AOR: 2.23, 95% CI: 1.06-4.70) had higher likelihood of a home death. Compared with subjects with hospitalization 0 to 6 times in previous 1 year, those with hospitalization =7 times in previous 1 year (AOR: 0.57, 95% CI: 0.34-0.95) had lower likelihood of a home death.Among home palliative care recipients, physician home visits increased the likelihood of a home death. Hospitalizations =7 times in previous 1 year decreased the likelihood of a home death.
Objectives: Increasing numbers of patients with prolonged mechanical ventilation generates a tremendous strain on healthcare systems. Patients with prolonged mechanical ventilation suffer from long-term poor quality of life. However, no study has ever explored the willingness to receive palliative care or terminal withdrawal and the factors influencing willingness.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: Five different hospitals of Taipei City Hospital system.
Patients: Adult patients with ventilatory support for more than 60 days.
Measurements and main results: We identified the family members of 145 consecutive patients with prolonged mechanical ventilation in five hospitals of Taipei City Hospital system and enrolled family members for 106 patients (73.1%). We collected information from patient families' regarding concepts (knowledge, attitude, and experiences) of palliative care, caregiver burden, family function, patient quality of life, and physician-family communications. From the medical record, we obtained duration of hospitalization, consciousness level, disease severity, medical cost, and the presence of do-not-resuscitate orders. The vast majority of family members agreed with the concept of palliative care (90.4%) with 17.3% of the family members agreeing to ventilator withdrawal currently and 67.5% terminally in anticipation of death. Approximately half of the family members regretted having chosen prolonged mechanical ventilation (56.7%). Reduced patient quality of life and increased family understanding of palliative care significantly associated with increased caregiver willingness to endorse palliative care and withdraw life-sustaining agents in anticipation of death. Longer duration of ventilator usage and hospitalization was associated with increased feelings of regret about choosing prolonged mechanical ventilation.
Conclusions: During prolonged mechanical ventilation, physicians should thoroughly discuss its benefits and burdens. Families should be given the opportunity to discuss the circumstances under which they might request the implementation of palliative care or withdrawal of mechanical ventilation in order to avoid prolonging the dying process.