OBJECTIVES: To report on direct experiences from advanced head and neck cancer patients, family carers and healthcare professionals, and the barriers to integrating specialist palliative care.
METHODS: Using a naturalistic, interpretative approach, within Northwest England, a purposive sample of adult head and neck cancer patients was selected. Their family carers were invited to participate. Healthcare professionals (representing head and neck surgery and specialist nursing; oncology; specialist palliative care; general practice and community nursing) were recruited. All participants underwent face-to-face or telephone interviews. A thematic approach, using a modified version of Colazzi's framework, was used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Seventeen interviews were conducted (9 patients, 4 joint with family carers and 8 healthcare professionals). Two main barriers were identified by healthcare professionals: "lack of consensus about timing of Specialist Palliative Care engagement" and "high stake decisions with uncertainty about treatment outcome." The main barrier identified by patients and family carers was "lack of preparedness when transitioning from curable to incurable disease." There were 2 overlapping themes from both groups: "uncertainty about meeting psychological needs" and "misconceptions of palliative care."
CONCLUSIONS: Head and neck cancer has a less predictable disease trajectory, where complex decisions are made and treatment outcomes are less certain. Specific focus is needed to define the optimal way to initiate Specialist Palliative Care referrals which may differ from those used for the wider cancer population. Clearer ways to effectively communicate goals of care are required potentially involving collaboration between Specialist Palliative Care and the wider head and neck cancer team.
BACKGROUND: The provision of care for dying cancer patients varies on a global basis. In order to improve care, we need to be able to evaluate the current level of care. One method of assessment is to use the views from the bereaved relatives.
AIM: The aim of this study is to translate and pre-test the 'Care Of the Dying Evaluation' (CODETM) questionnaire across seven participating countries prior to conducting an evaluation of current quality of care.
DESIGN: The three stages were as follows: (1) translation of CODE in keeping with standardised international principles; (2) pre-testing using patient and public involvement and cognitive interviews with bereaved relatives; and (3) utilising a modified nominal group technique to establish a common, core international version of CODE.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Hospital settings: for each country, at least five patient and public involvement representatives, selected by purposive sampling, fed back on CODETM questionnaire; and at least five bereaved relatives to cancer patients undertook cognitive interviews. Feedback was collated and categorised into themes relating to clarity, recall, sensitivity and response options. Structured consensus meeting held to determine content of international CODE (i-CODE) questionnaire.
RESULTS: In total, 48 patient and public involvement representatives and 35 bereaved relatives contributed to the pre-testing stages. No specific question item was recommended for exclusion from CODETM. Revisions to the demographic section were needed to be culturally appropriate.
CONCLUSION: Patient and public involvement and bereaved relatives' perceptions helped enhance the face and content validity of i-CODE. A common, core international questionnaire is now developed with key questions relating to quality of care for the dying.
BACKGROUND: There is limited understanding of the 'lived experience' of palliative care patient within the acute care setting. Failing to engage with and understand the views of patients and those close to them, has fundamental consequences for future health delivery. Understanding 'patient experience' can enable care providers to ensure services are responsive and adaptive to individual patient need.
METHODS: The aim of this study was to explore the 'lived experience' of a group of patients with palliative care needs who had recently been in-patients in one acute hospital trust in the north-west of England. Qualitative research using narrative interviews was undertaken, and data was analysed using thematic analysis. A sample of 20 consecutive patients complying with the inclusion/exclusion criteria were recruited and interviewed.
RESULTS: Patient Sample: Of the 20 patients recruited, there was a fairly equal gender split; all had a cancer diagnosis and the majority were white British, with an age range of 43-87 years. Findings from Interviews: Overall inpatient experience was viewed positively. Individual narratives illustrated compassionate and responsive care, with the patient at the centre. Acts of compassion appeared to be expressed through the 'little things' staff could do for patients, i.e., time to talk, time to care, humanity and comfort measures. AHSPCT involvement resulted in perceived improvements in pain control and holistic wellbeing. However, challenges were evident, particularly regarding over-stretched staff and resources, and modes of communication, which seemed to impact on patient experience.
CONCLUSIONS: Listening to patients' experiences of care across the organisation provided a unique opportunity to impact upon delivery of care. Further research should focus on exploring issues such as: why some patients within the same organisation have a positive experience of care, while others may not; how do staff attitudes and behaviours impact on the experience of care; transitions of care from hospital to home, and the role of social networks.