Background: Care costs rise towards the end of life. International comparison of service use, costs and care experiences can inform quality and improve access.
Aim: The aim of this study was to compare health and social care costs, quality and their drivers in the last 3 months of life for older adults across countries. Null hypothesis: no difference between countries.
Design: Mortality follow-back survey. Costs were calculated from carers’ reported service use and unit costs.
Setting: Palliative care services in England (London), Ireland (Dublin) and the United States (New York, San Francisco).
Participants: Informal carers of decedents who had received palliative care participated in the study.
Results: A total of 767 questionnaires were returned: 245 in England, 282 in Ireland and 240 in the United States. Mean care costs per person with cancer/non-cancer were US$37,250/US$37,376 (the United States), US$29,065/US$29,411 (Ireland), US$15,347/US$16,631 (England) and differed significantly (F = 25.79/14.27, p < 0.000). Cost distributions differed and were most homogeneous in England. In all countries, hospital care accounted for > 80% of total care costs; community care 6%–16%, palliative care 1%–15%; 10% of decedents used ~30% of total care costs. Being a high-cost user was associated with older age (>80 years), facing financial difficulties and poor experiences of home care, but not with having cancer or multimorbidity. Palliative care services consistently had the highest satisfaction.
Conclusion: Poverty and poor home care drove high costs, suggesting that improving community palliative care may improve care value, especially as palliative care expenditure was low. Major diagnostic variables were not cost drivers. Care costs in the United States were high and highly variable, suggesting that high-cost low-value care may be prevalent.
BACKGROUND: Inadequate description of palliative care cancer patients in research studies often leads to results having limited generalizability. To standardize the description of the sample, the European Association for Palliative Care basic data set was developed, with 31 core demographic and disease-related variables.
AIM: To pilot test the data set to check acceptability, comprehensibility and feasibility.
DESIGN: International, multi-centre pilot study at nine study sites in five European countries, using mixed methods.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult cancer patients and staff in palliative care units, hospices and home care.
RESULTS: In all, 191 patients (544 screened) and 190 health care personnel were included. Median time to fill in the patient form was 5 min and the health care personnel form was 7 min. Ethnicity was the most challenging item for patients and requires decisions at a national level about whether or how to include. Health care personnel found weight loss, principal diagnosis, additional diagnoses and stage of non-cancer diseases most difficult to respond to. Registration of diagnoses will be changed from International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th version code to a predefined list, while weight loss and stage of non-cancer diseases will be removed. The pilot study has led to rewording of items, improvement in response options and shortening of the data set to 29 items.
CONCLUSION: Pilot testing of the first version of the European Association for Palliative Care basic data set confirmed that patients and health care personnel understand the questions in a consistent manner and can answer within an acceptable timeframe. The pilot testing has led to improvement, and the new version is now subject to further testing.
BACKGROUND: Recruitment challenges contribute to the paucity of palliative care research with advanced chronic heart failure patients.
AIM: To describe the challenges and outline strategies of recruiting advanced chronic heart failure patients.
DESIGN: A feasibility study using a pre-post uncontrolled design.
SETTING: Advanced chronic heart failure patients were recruited at two nurse-led chronic heart failure disease management clinics in Ireland Results: Of 372 patients screened, 81 were approached, 38 were recruited (46.9% conversion to consent) and 25 completed the intervention. To identify the desired population, a modified version of the European Society of Cardiology definition was used together with modified New York Heart Association inclusion criteria to address inter-study site New York Heart Association classification subjectivity. These modifications substantially increased median monthly numbers of eligible patients approached (from 8 to 20) and median monthly numbers recruited (from 4 to 9). Analysis using a mortality risk calculator demonstrated that recruited patients had a median 1-year mortality risk of 22.7 and confirmed that the modified eligibility criteria successfully identified the population of interest. A statistically significant difference in New York Heart Association classification was found in recruited patients between study sites, but no statistically significant difference was found in selected clinical parameters between these patients.
CONCLUSION: Clinically relevant modifications to the European Society of Cardiology definition and strategies to address New York Heart Association subjectivity may help to improve advanced chronic heart failure patient recruitment in clinical settings, thereby helping to address the paucity of palliative care research this population.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care needs of patients with chronic heart failure are poorly recognised. Policy makers advise a patient-centred approach to holistically assess patients' needs and care goals. Patient-reported outcome measures are proposed to facilitate patient-centred care.
AIM: To explore whether and how a palliative care-specific patient-reported outcome intervention involving the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale influences patients' experience of patient-centred care in nurse-led chronic heart failure disease management clinics.
DESIGN: A feasibility study using a parallel mixed-methods embedded design was undertaken. The qualitative component which examined patients and nurses experience of the intervention is reported here. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed using framework analysis.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Eligible patients attended nurse-led chronic heart failure disease management clinics in two tertiary referral centres in Ireland with New York Heart Association functional class II-IV. Nurses who led these clinics were eligible for inclusion.
RESULTS: In all, 18 patients and all 4 nurses involved in the nurse-led clinics were interviewed. Three key themes were identified: identification of unmet needs, holistic assessment and patient empowerment. The intervention impacted on processes of care by enabling a shared understanding of patients' symptoms and concerns, facilitating patient-nurse communication by focusing on these unmet needs and empowering patients to become more involved in clinical discussions.
CONCLUSION: This Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale-based intervention empowered patients to become more engaged in the clinical consultation and to highlight their unmet needs. This study adds to the evidence for the mechanism of action of patient-reported outcome measures to improve patient-centred care and will help inform outcome selection for future patient-reported outcome measure research.
Background: Achieving choice is proposed as a quality marker. But little is known about what influences preferences especially among older adults. We aimed to determine and compare, across three countries, factors associated with preferences for place of death and treatment, and actual site of death.
Methods: We recruited adults aged =65-years from hospital-based multiprofessional palliative care services in London, Dublin, New York, and followed them for >17 months. All services offered consultation on hospital wards, support for existing clinical teams, outpatient services and received funding from their National Health Service and/or relevant Insurance reimbursements. The New York service additionally had 10 inpatient beds. All worked with and referred patients to local hospices. Face-to-face interviews recorded most and least preferred place of death, treatment goal priorities, demographic and clinical information using validated questionnaires. Multivariable and multilevel analyses assessed associated factors.
Results: One hundred and thirty eight older adults (64 London, 59 Dublin, 15 New York) were recruited, 110 died during follow-up. Home was the most preferred place of death (77/138, 56%) followed by inpatient palliative care/hospice units (22%). Hospital was least preferred (35/138, 25%), followed by nursing home (20%) and home (16%); hospice/palliative care unit was rarely least preferred (4%). Most respondents prioritised improving quality of life, either alone (54%), or equal with life extension (39%); few (3%) chose only life extension. There were no significant differences between countries. Main associates with home preference were: cancer diagnosis (OR 3.72, 95% CI 1.40–9.90) and living with someone (OR 2.19, 1.33–3.62). Adults with non-cancer diagnoses were more likely to prefer palliative care units (OR 2.39, 1.14–5.03). Conversely, functional independence (OR 1.05, 1.04–1.06) and valuing quality of life (OR 3.11, 2.89–3.36) were associated with dying at home. There was a mismatch between preferences and achievements – of 85 people who preferred home or a palliative care unit, 19 (25%) achieved their first preference.
Conclusion: Although home is the most common first preference, it is polarising and for 16% it is the least preferred. Inpatient palliative care unit emerges as the second most preferred place, is rarely least preferred, and yet was often not achieved for those who wanted to die there. Factors affecting stated preferences and met preferences differ. Available services, notably community support and palliative care units, require expansion. Contrasting actual place of death with capacity for meeting patient and family needs may be a better quality indicator than simply ‘achieved preferences’.
Les auteurs décrivent le cas de deux patients en phase terminale chez qui le symptôme de déshydratation a été traité par perfusion sous-cutanée d'une solution physiologique saline; cette thérapeutique a soulagé la sécheresse buccale, mais pas la sensation de soif.