This paper is aimed at focusing on the writings and the experience of the Hospice movement Founder, Dame Cicely Saunders. The in-depth analysis carried out had the objective of verifying if "the way" of Cicely to understand, live and propose palliative care was still current and "beautiful", so that we can nowadays refer to her fascinating "Original Palliative Care". With "beauty" we mean, on the one hand, a way able to allow a personal path of research of the meaning of the disease and of the care, both for those who care and for those who are cared for. On the other hand, it seems to us that Cicely strongly suggests how this path can not be carried out alone, but is only possible within the context of a network of relationships and support, in a so called "relational autonomy", for the patient, included in a "care ethics". The authors believe that the work extensively documents as the overall approach of Cicely, traditional but always to be rediscovered, is still today the most convincing way of conception and action of palliative care.
The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between delirium and symptom expression in advanced cancer patients admitted to palliative care services. This is a secondary analysis of a consecutive sample of advanced cancer patients who were admitted to home care and hospices, and prospectively assessed for a period of 10 months. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the MDAS (Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale) were measured at admission (T0) and after seven days of home care or hospice care (T7). Of the eight hundred and forty-eight patients screened in the period, 585 were not considered in the analysis for various reasons. The mean age was 72.1 years (SD 13.7), and 146 patients were males (55.5%). The mean Karnofsky status recorded at T0 is 34.1 (SD = 6.69). The mean duration palliative care assistance is 38.4 days (SD = 48, range 2–220). Of 263 patients who had a MDAS available at T0, 110 patients (41.8%) had a diagnosis of delirium. Of them, 167 patients had complete data regarding MDAS measurement, either at T0 and T7. A larger number of patients (n 167, 63.5%) had delirium after a week of palliative care. Patients with delirium are likely to be older, to have a lower Karnofsky level at T0, and to be home care patients. At T0, weakness, nausea, drowsiness, lack of appetite, and well-being are associated with delirium. At T7, weakness, poor appetite, and poor well-being are significantly associated with delirium. 27% of patients who had a normal cognitive status at T0 developed delirium at T7. In patients with delirium, an improvement in the cognitive status corresponds to a significant improvement in weakness, depression, and appetite. Conversely, the occurrence of delirium in patients who had a normal cognitive status at admission significantly increases the level depression, while the level of weakness and appetite decrease. Symptom expression is amplified in patients with delirium admitted to home care or hospices, while patients without delirium can be more responsive to palliative treatments with a significant decrease in intensity of ESAS items
AIM: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of delirium in advanced cancer patients admitted to different palliative care services in Italy and possible related factors. The secondary outcome was to assess the changes of delirium after 1 week of palliative care.
METHODS: A consecutive sample of patients was screened for delirium in period of 1 year in seven palliative care services. General data, including primary tumor, age, gender, concomitant disease, palliative prognostic score (PaP), and Karnofsky status, were collected. Possible causes or factors associated with delirium were looked for. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale was used to assess physical and psychological symptoms and the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) to assess the cognitive status of patients, at admission (T0) and 1 week after palliative care (T7).
RESULTS: Of 848 patients screened, 263 patients were evaluated. Sixty-six patients had only the initial evaluation. The mean Karnofsky status was 34.1 (SD = 6.69); the mean PaP score at admission was 6.9 (SD = 3.97). The mean duration of palliative care assistance, equivalent to survival, was 38.4 days (SD = 48, range 2–220). The mean MDAS values at admission and after 1 week of palliative care were 6.9 (SD = 6.71) and 8.8 (SD = 8.26), respectively. One hundred ten patients (41.8%) and 167 patients (67.3%) had MDAS values = 7 at admission and after 1 week of palliative care, respectively. Age, dehydration, cachexia, chemotherapy in the last three months, and intensity of drowsiness and dyspnea were independently associated with a MDAS > 7. A worsening of drowsiness, the use of opioids, and the use of corticosteroids were independently associated with changes of MDAS from T0 to T7.
CONCLUSION: Although the prevalence of delirium seems to be similar to that reported in other acute settings, delirium tended to worsen or poorly responded to a palliative care treatment. Some clinical factors were independently associated with delirium. This information is relevant for decision-making when delirium does not change despite a traditional intervention. Continuous assessment of delirium should be performed in these settings to detect deterioration of cognitive function. Further studies should elucidate whether an earlier approach to palliative care would decrease the prevalence of delirium at a late stage of disease.
Aim: To assess the prevalence and intensity of constipation in advanced-cancer patients referred to palliative care, and to assess changes after one week of specialist palliative care.
Methods: Prospective multicenter study in advanced patients for a period of one year. At admission (T0), age, gender, primary tumor, concomitant diseases, Karnofsky status, Palliative prognostic score (PaP) Edmonton Symptom Assessment scale (ESAS), MDAS (Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale), and bowel function index (BFI) were collected. In BFI, high values represent severe constipation. The use of medication was also recorded, as well as possible causes of constipation. The same parameters were recorded one week after admission for palliative care (T7).
Results: A total of 246 patients were screened for constipation. The mean BFI at T0 was 42.4 (SD = 26.92). One hundred and sixty-three patients (66.3%) had a BFI >28. The mean BFI at T7 was 35.7 (SD = 28.8), with a significant decrease from T0 to T7 (p = .000). A significant decrease of BFI in patients with a BFI >28 was reported (p = .000). In patients with a BFI =28 there was a significant worsening of constipation (p = .000). In patients with a BFI >28 at T0 there was a significant increase in the use of laxatives at T7 in comparison with patients having a BFI =28 (p = .002). In patients with a BFI =28 at T0, who had a significant worsening of BFI ( > 12), the use of laxatives was significantly lower in comparison to patients who had a BFI >28 (p = .000). In the multivariate analysis, dehydration and the use of benzodiazepines were independently associated with higher BFI scores.
Conclusion: Constipation is present in approximately two-thirds of patients, and is principally associated with dehydration and the use of benzodiazepines. Patients with normal bowel function at initial assessment may see a worsening in their condition a week later due to lack of prevention or subsequent under-treatment.