Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.
CONTEXT: Symptom management is essential in the end of life care of long-term care facility residents.
OBJECTIVES: To study discrepancies and possible associated factors in staff and family carers' symptom assessment scores for residents in the last week of life.
METHODS: A post mortem survey in Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland: staff and family carers completed the "End-Of-Life in Dementia - Comfort Assessment in Dying" scale (EOLD-CAD), rating 14 symptoms on a 1 to 3-point scale. Higher scores reflect better comfort. We calculated mean paired differences in symptom, subscale and total scores at a group level and interrater agreement and percentage of perfect agreement at a resident level.
RESULTS: Mean staff scores significantly reflected better comfort than those of family carers for the total End-of-Life in Dementia—Comfort Assessment in Dying (31.61 vs. 29.81; P < 0.001) and the physical distress (8.64 vs. 7.62; P < 0.001) and dying symptoms (8.95 vs. 8.25; P < 0.001) subscales. No significant differences were found for emotional distress and well-being. The largest discrepancies were found for gurgling, discomfort, restlessness, and choking for which staff answered not at all, whereas the family carer answered a lot, in respectively, 9.5%, 7.3%, 6.7%, and 6.1% of cases. Inter-rater agreement ranged from 0.106 to 0.204, the extent of perfect agreement from 40.8 for lack of serenity to 68.7% for crying.
CONCLUSION: There is a need for improved communication between staff and family and discussion about symptom burden in the dying phase in long-term care facilities.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of clinician perception of inappropriate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) regarding the last out--of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) encountered in an adult 80 years or older and its relationship to patient outcome.
DESIGN: Subanalysis of an international multicenter cross-sectional survey (REAPPROPRIATE).
SETTING: Out-of-hospital CPR attempts registered in Europe, Israel, Japan, and the United States in adults 80 years or older.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 611 clinicians of whom 176 (28.8%) were doctors, 123 (20.1%) were nurses, and 312 (51.1%) were emergency medical technicians/paramedics.
RESULTS AND MEASUREMENTS: The last CPR attempt among patients 80 years or older was perceived as appropriate by 320 (52.4%) of the clinicians; 178 (29.1%) were uncertain about the appropriateness, and 113 (18.5%) perceived the CPR attempt as inappropriate. The survival to hospital discharge for the “appropriate” subgroup was 8 of 265 (3.0%), 1 of 164 (.6%) in the “uncertain” subgroup, and 2 of 107 (1.9%) in the “inappropriate” subgroup (P = .23); 503 of 564 (89.2%) CPR attempts involved non-shockable rhythms.
CPR attempts in nursing homes accounted for 124 of 590 (21.0%) of the patients and were perceived as appropriate by 44 (35.5%) of the clinicians; 45 (36.3%) were uncertain about the appropriateness; and 35 (28.2%) perceived the CPR attempt as inappropriate. The survival to hospital discharge for the nursing home patients was 0 of 107 (0%); 104 of 111 (93.7%) CPR attempts involved non-shockable rhythms.
verall, 36 of 543 (6.6%) CPR attempts were undertaken despite a known written do not attempt resuscitation decision; 14 of 36 (38.9%) clinicians considered this appropriate, 9 of 36 (25.0%) were uncertain about its appropriateness, and 13 of 36 (36.1%) considered this inappropriate.
CONCLUSION: Our findings show that despite generally poor outcomes for older patients undergoing CPR, many emergency clinicians do not consider these attempts at resuscitation to be inappropriate. A professional and societal debate is urgently needed to ensure that first we do not harm older patients by futile CPR attempts.
Importance: High-quality evidence on how to improve palliative care in nursing homes is lacking.
Objective: To investigate the effect of the Palliative Care for Older People (PACE) Steps to Success Program on resident and staff outcomes.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A cluster-randomized clinical trial (2015-2017) in 78 nursing homes in 7 countries comparing PACE Steps to Success Program (intervention) with usual care (control). Randomization was stratified by country and median number of beds in each country in a 1:1 ratio.
Interventions: The PACE Steps to Success Program is a multicomponent intervention to integrate basic nonspecialist palliative care in nursing homes. Using a train-the-trainer approach, an external trainer supports staff in nursing homes to introduce a palliative care approach over the course of 1 year following a 6-steps program. The steps are (1) advance care planning with residents and family, (2) assessment, care planning, and review of needs and problems, (3) coordination of care via monthly multidisciplinary review meetings, (4) delivery of high-quality care focusing on pain and depression, (5) care in the last days of life, and (6) care after death.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary resident outcome was comfort in the last week of life measured after death by staff using the End-of-Life in Dementia Scale Comfort Assessment While Dying (EOLD-CAD; range, 14-42). The primary staff outcome was knowledge of palliative care reported by staff using the Palliative Care Survey (PCS; range, 0-1).
Results: Concerning deceased residents, we collected 551 of 610 questionnaires from staff at baseline and 984 of 1178 postintervention in 37 intervention and 36 control homes. Mean (SD) age at time of death ranged between 85.22 (9.13) and 85.91 (8.57) years, and between 60.6% (160/264) and 70.6% (190/269) of residents were women across the different groups. Residents’ comfort in the last week of life did not differ between intervention and control groups (baseline-adjusted mean difference, -0.55; 95% CI, -1.71 to 0.61; P = .35). Concerning staff, we collected 2680 of 3638 questionnaires at baseline and 2437 of 3510 postintervention in 37 intervention and 38 control homes. Mean (SD) age of staff ranged between 42.3 (12.1) and 44.1 (11.7) years, and between 87.2% (1092/1253) and 89% (1224/1375) of staff were women across the different groups. Staff in the intervention group had statistically significantly better knowledge of palliative care than staff in the control group, but the clinical difference was minimal (baseline-adjusted mean difference, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.02-0.05; P < .001). Data analyses began on April 20, 2018.
Conclusions and Relevance: Residents' comfort in the last week of life did not improve after introducing the PACE Steps to Success Program. Improvements in staff knowledge of palliative care were clinically not important.
Trial Registration: ISRCTN Identifier: ISRCTN14741671.
Context: To provide high-quality palliative care to nursing home residents, staff need to understand the basic principles of palliative care.
Objectives: to evaluate the extent of agreement with the basic principles of palliative care of nurses and care assistants working in nursing homes in five European countries and to identify correlates.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional study in 214 homes in Belgium, England, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Agreement with basic principles of palliative care was measured with the Rotterdam MOVE2PC. We calculated percentages and odds ratios of agreement and an overall score between 0 (no agreement) and 5 (total agreement).
Results: Most staff in all countries agreed that palliative care involves more than pain treatment (58% Poland to 82% Belgium) and includes spiritual care (62% Italy to 76% Belgium) and care for family or relatives (56% Italy to 92% Belgium). Between 51% (the Netherlands) and 64% (Belgium) correctly disagreed that palliative care should start in the last week of life and 24% (Belgium) to 53% (Poland) agreed that palliative care and intensive life-prolonging treatment can be combined. The overall agreement score ranged between 1.82 (Italy) and 3.36 (England). Older staff (0.26; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.09–0.43, P = 0.003), nurses (0.59; 95% CI: 0.43–0.75, P < 0.001), and staff who had undertaken palliative care training scored higher (0.21; 95% CI: 0.08–0.34, P = 0.002).
Conclusions: The level of agreement of nursing home staff with basic principles of palliative care was only moderate and differed between countries. Efforts to improve the understanding of basic palliative care are needed.
Background: Opioids, antipsychotics and hypnotics are recommended for comfort care in dying. We studied their prescription during the last 3 days in residents deceased in the long-term care facility (LTCF).
Methods: In a retrospective, cross-sectional survey in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, LTCFs, selected by proportional stratified random sampling, reported all deaths over the previous 3 months. The nurse most involved in the residents' care reviewed the chart for opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription, cause of death and comorbidities. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to adjust for resident characteristics.
Results: Response rate was 81.6%. We included 1079 deceased residents in 322 LCTFs. Opioid prescription ranged from 18.5% (95% CI: 13.0-25.8) of residents in Poland to 77.9% (95% CI: 69.5-84.5) in the Netherlands, antipsychotic prescription from 4.8% (95% CI: 2.4-9.1) in Finland to 22.4% (95% CI: 14.7-32.4) in Italy, hypnotic prescription from 7.8% (95% CI: 4.6-12.8) in Finland to 47.9% (95% CI: 38.5-57.3) in the Netherlands. Differences in opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription between countries remained significant (P < 0.001) when controlling for age, gender, length of stay, cognitive status, cause of death in multilevel, multivariable analyses. Dying from cancer showed higher odds for receiving opioids (OR 3.51; P < 0.001) and hypnotics (OR 2.10; P = 0.010).
Conclusions: Opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription in the dying phase differed significantly between six European countries. Further research should determine the appropriateness of their prescription and refine guidelines especially for LTCF residents dying of non-cancer diseases.
BACKGROUND: The provision of high-quality palliative care in nursing homes (NHs) is a major challenge and places demands on the knowledge and skills of the staff.
AIM: This study assesses the palliative care knowledge of staff in NHs in Europe.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using structured survey Setting/participants: Nurses and care assistants working in 322 representative samples of NHs in Belgium, the Netherlands, England, Finland, Poland and Italy. Palliative care knowledge is measured with the Palliative Care Survey. Scores on the scales range between 0 and 1; higher scores indicate more knowledge.
RESULTS: A total of 3392 NH-staff were given a questionnaire, and 2275 responded (67%). Knowledge of basic palliative care issues ranged between 0.20 in Poland (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.19; 0.24) and 0.61 in Belgium (95% CI 0.59; 0.63), knowledge of physical aspects that can contribute to pain ranged between 0.81 in Poland (95% CI 0.79; 0.84) and 0.91 in the Netherlands (95% CI 0.89; 0.93), and knowledge of psychological reasons that can contribute to pain ranged between 0.56 in England (95% CI 0.50; 0.62) and 0.87 in Finland (95% CI 0.83; 0.90). Factors associated with knowledge were country, professional role and having undertaken formal training in palliative care.
CONCLUSIONS: Knowledge of nurses and care assistants concerning basic palliative care issues appears to be suboptimal in all participating countries, although there is substantial heterogeneity. Education of nursing staff needs to be improved across, but each country may require its own strategy to address the unique and specific knowledge gaps.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) is a continuous, dynamic process of reflection and dialogue between an individual, those close to them and their healthcare professionals, concerning the individual's preferences and values concerning future treatment and care, including end-of-life care. Despite universal recognition of the importance of ACP for people with dementia, who gradually lose their ability to make informed decisions themselves, ACP still only happens infrequently, and evidence-based recommendations on when and how to perform this complex process are lacking. We aimed to develop evidence-based clinical recommendations to guide professionals across settings in the practical application of ACP in dementia care.
METHODS: Following the Belgian Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine's procedures, we 1) performed an extensive literature search to identify international guidelines, articles reporting heterogeneous study designs and grey literature, 2) developed recommendations based on the available evidence and expert opinion of the author group, and 3) performed a validation process using written feedback from experts, a survey for end users (healthcare professionals across settings), and two peer-review groups (with geriatricians and general practitioners).
RESULTS: Based on 67 publications and validation from ten experts, 51 end users and two peer-review groups (24 participants) we developed 32 recommendations covering eight domains: initiation of ACP, evaluation of mental capacity, holding ACP conversations, the role and importance of those close to the person with dementia, ACP with people who find it difficult or impossible to communicate verbally, documentation of wishes and preferences, including information transfer, end-of-life decision-making, and preconditions for optimal implementation of ACP. Almost all recommendations received a grading representing low to very low-quality evidence.
CONCLUSION: No high-quality guidelines are available for ACP in dementia care. By combining evidence with expert and user opinions, we have defined a unique set of recommendations for ACP in people living with dementia. These recommendations form a valuable tool for educating healthcare professionals on how to perform ACP across settings.
BACKGROUND: Several studies have highlighted the need for improvement in palliative care delivered to older people long-term care facilities. However, the available evidence on how to improve palliative care in these settings is weak, especially in Europe. We describe the protocol of the PACE trial aimed to 1) evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the 'PACE Steps to Success' palliative care intervention for older people in long-term care facilities, and 2) assess the implementation process and identify facilitators and barriers for implementation in different countries.
METHODS: We will conduct a multi-facility cluster randomised controlled trial in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and England. In total, 72 facilities will be randomized to receive the 'Pace Steps to Success intervention' or to 'care as usual'. Primary outcome at resident level: quality of dying (CAD-EOLD); and at staff level: staff knowledge of palliative care (Palliative Care Survey).
SECONDARY OUTCOMES: resident's quality of end-of-life care, staff self-efficacy, self-perceived educational needs, and opinions on palliative care. Economic outcomes: direct costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs). Measurements are performed at baseline and after the intervention. For the resident-level outcomes, facilities report all deaths of residents in and outside the facilities over a previous four-month period and structured questionnaires are sent to (1) the administrator, (2) staff member most involved in care (3) treating general practitioner, and (4) a relative. For the staff-level outcomes, all staff who are working in the facilities are asked to complete a structured questionnaire. A process evaluation will run alongside the effectiveness evaluation in the intervention group using the RE-AIM framework.
DISCUSSION: The lack of high quality trials in palliative care has been recognized throughout the field of palliative care research. This cross-national cluster RCT designed to evaluate the impact of the palliative care intervention for long-term care facilities 'PACE Steps to Success' in seven countries, will provide important evidence concerning the effectiveness as well as the preconditions for optimal implementation of palliative care in nursing homes, and this within different health care systems.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The study is registered at www.isrctn.com - ISRCTN14741671 (FP7-HEALTH-2013-INNOVATION-1 603111) Registration date: July 30, 2015.
BACKGROUND: Literature depicts differences in ethical decision-making (EDM) between countries and intensive care units (ICU).
OBJECTIVES: To better conceptualise EDM climate in the ICU and to validate a tool to assess EDM climates.
METHODS: Using a modified Delphi method, we built a theoretical framework and a self-assessment instrument consisting of 35 statements. This Ethical Decision-Making Climate Questionnaire (EDMCQ) was developed to capture three EDM domains in healthcare: interdisciplinary collaboration and communication; leadership by physicians; and ethical environment. This instrument was subsequently validated among clinicians working in 68 adult ICUs in 13 European countries and the USA. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was used to determine the structure of the EDM climate as perceived by clinicians. Measurement invariance was tested to make sure that variables used in the analysis were comparable constructs across different groups.
RESULTS: Of 3610 nurses and 1137 physicians providing ICU bedside care, 2275 (63.1%) and 717 (62.9%) participated respectively. Statistical analyses revealed that a shortened 32-item version of the EDMCQ scale provides a factorial valid measurement of seven facets of the extent to which clinicians perceive an EDM climate: self-reflective and empowering leadership by physicians; practice and culture of open interdisciplinary reflection; culture of not avoiding end-of-life decisions; culture of mutual respect within the interdisciplinary team; active involvement of nurses in end-of-life care and decision-making; active decision-making by physicians; and practice and culture of ethical awareness. Measurement invariance of the EDMCQ across occupational groups was shown, reflecting that nurses and physicians interpret the EDMCQ items in a similar manner.
CONCLUSIONS: The 32-item version of the EDMCQ might enrich the EDM climate measurement, clinicians' behaviour and the performance of healthcare organisations. This instrument offers opportunities to develop tailored ICU team interventions.
BACKGROUND: Timely identification of patients in need of palliative care is especially challenging in a geriatric population because of prognostic uncertainty. The Supportive and Palliative Care Indicators Tool (SPICT™) aims at facilitating this identification, yet has not been validated in a geriatric population.
OBJECTIVE: This study validates the SPICT in a geriatric patient population admitted to the hospital.
DESIGN: This is a retrospective cohort study.
SETTING: Subject were patients admitted to the acute geriatric ward of a Belgian university hospital between January 1 and June 30, 2014.
MEASUREMENTS: Data including demographics, functional status, comorbidities, treatment limitation decision (TLD), and one-year mortality were collected. SPICT was measured retrospectively by an independent assessor.
RESULTS: Out of 435 included patients, 54.7% had a positive SPICT, using a cut-off value of 2 for the general indicators and a cut-off value of 1 for the clinical questions. SPICT-positive patients were older (p = 0.033), more frequently male (p = 0.028), and had more comorbidities (p = 0.015) than SPICT-negative patients. The overall one-year mortality was 32.2%, 48.7% in SPICT-positive patients, and 11.5% in SPICT-negative patients (p < 0.001). SPICT predicted one-year mortality with a sensitivity of 0.841 and a specificity of 0.579. The area under the curve of the general indicators (0.758) and the clinical indicators of SPICT (0.748) did not differ (p = 0.638). In 71.4% of SPICT-positive cases, a TLD was present versus 26.9% in SPICT-negative cases (p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: SPICT seems to be valuable for identifying geriatric patients in need of palliative care as it demonstrates significant association with one-year mortality and with clinical survival predictions of experienced geriatricians, as reflected by TLDs given.