Aim: The authors aimed to evaluate the experiences of the relatives of dying people, both in regard to benefits and special needs, when supported by a mobile palliative care bridging service (MPCBS), which exists to enable dying people to stay at home and to support patients' relatives.
Design: A cross-sectional survey.
Methods: A standardised survey was performed, asking 106 relatives of dying people about their experiences with the MPCBS (response rate=47.3%). Descriptive statistics were analysed using SPSS 23.
Findings: Many relatives (62.5%) reported that their dying relations when discharged from a facility to stay at home were not symptom-free. The MPCBS helped relatives maintain home care, and this was reported to be helpful. Support provided by the MPCBS made it easier for 77.6% of relatives to adjust care as soon as situations changed, and helped ensure that symptoms could be better controlled, at least for 68.2% of relatives. Younger relatives felt more encouraged by the MPCBS to care for their relatives dying at home.
Introduction: Health professionals in oncologic and palliative care settings are often faced with the problem that patients stop eating and drinking. While the causes of food refusal are very different, the result is often malnutrition, which is linked to health comorbidities and a high mortality rate. However, the professionals lack the time and knowledge to clarify the cause for each patient. What associations do health professionals have when faced with food refusal?
Objective: To investigate the associations that health professionals in oncological and palliative settings have about denied eating behavior
Methods: A cross-sectional study, starting with an open question focusing professionals’ associations regarding food refusal. The results were inductively analyzed, whereby generic categories were developed. Subsequently, the categories were transformed into quantitative data to calculate the relationships between the categories.
Results: A total of 350 out of 2000 participants completed the survey, resulting in a response rate of 17.5%. Food refusal is primarily associated with physical and ethical aspects and with end-of-life. Half of the participants frequently find that patients refuse to eat. The attitudes show that the autonomy of the patient is the highest good and is to be respected. Even in the case of patients with limited decision-making capacity, the refusal to eat is acceptable.
Conclusion: Clarifying the cause of food refusal requires a great deal of knowledge and is strongly influenced by the associations of health professionals. While the associations have very negative connotations, information and training is needed to make professionals aware of this and to change their associations. With this knowledge and in an interprofessional cooperation, mis-labelling of patient settings can be avoided and fears can be reduced.
AIMS: To assess the incidence of voluntary stopping of eating and drinking in long-term care and to gain insights into the attitudes of long-term care nurses about the voluntary stopping of eating and drinking.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional study.
METHODS: Heads of Swiss nursing homes (535; 34%) answered the Online-Survey between June and October 2017, which was evaluated using descriptive data analysis.
RESULTS: The incidence of patients who died in Swiss nursing homes by voluntarily stopping eating and drinking is 1.7% and 67.5% of participants consider this phenomenon highly relevant in their daily work. Most participants (64.2%) rate voluntary stopping of eating and drinking as a natural death accompanied by health professionals and patients are also granted the right to care (91.9%). This phenomenon is expected by the participants less at a young age and more in old age.
CONCLUSION: Participants' overall views on the voluntary stopping of eating and drinking are very positive, whereas it is assumed that voluntary stopping of eating and drinking is a phenomenon of old age. Professionals still lack sufficient knowledge about this phenomenon, which could be clarified through training. International Registered Report Identifier (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/10358.
IMPACT: Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking is much discussed interprofessional, but there is a lack of knowledge on how this is perceived in the context of long-term care and about the incidence of the phenomenon. Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking is rare but noticeable end-of-life practises that is considered by professionals to be mainly dignified and peaceful, although moral concerns make it difficult to accompany. These findings call on long-term care institutions to discuss voluntary stopping of eating and drinking as an end-of-life practice. Positioning on the issue provides clarity for staff and patients and promotes to develop standardized care.
BACKGROUND: Lay family caregivers of patients receiving palliative care often confront stressful situations in the care of their loved ones. This is particularly true for families in the home-based palliative care settings, where the family caregivers are responsible for a substantial amount of the patient's care. Yet, to our knowledge, no study to date has examined the family caregivers' exposure to critical events and distress with home-based palliative care has been reported from Germany. Therefore, we attempt to assess family caregiver exposure to the dying patient's critical health events and relate that to the caregiver's own psychological distress to examine associations with general health within a home-based palliative care situation in Germany.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among 106 family caregivers with home-based palliative care in the Federal State of North Rhine Westphalia, Germany. We administered the Stressful Caregiving Adult Reactions to Experiences of Dying (SCARED) Scale. Descriptive statistics and linear regression models relating general health (SF-36) were used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: The frequency of the caregiver's exposure, or witness of, critical health events of the patient ranged from 95.2% "pain/discomfort" to 20.8% "family caregiver thought patient was dead". The highest distress scores assessing fear and helpfulness were associated with "family caregiver felt patient had enough'" and "family caregiver thought patient was dead". Linear regression analyses revealed significant inverse associations between SCARED critical health event exposure frequency (beta=.408, p=.025) and total score (beta=.377, p=.007) with general health in family caregivers.
CONCLUSIONS: Family caregivers with home-based palliative care in Germany frequently experience exposure to a large number of critical health events in caring for their family members who are terminally ill. These exposures are associated with the family caregiver's degree of fear and helplessness and are associated with their worse general health. Thus the SCARED Scale, which is brief and easy to administer, appears able to identify these potentially upsetting critical health events among family caregivers of palliative care patients receiving care at home. Because it identified commonly encountered critical events in these patients and related them to adverse general health of family caregivers, the SCARED may add to clinically useful screens to identify family caregivers who may be struggling.
BACKGROUND: "To die with dignity" has reached the significance of a core value in democratic societies. Based on this unconditional value, people require autonomy and care. "Voluntary stopping of eating and drinking" (VSED) represents an alternative to assisted suicide because no one else is involved in the action of death fastening, even though from outside, it might be considered as an extreme form of passive euthanasia. However, there are no data available about the prevalence and frequency of either explicit VSED or the implicit reduction of food and liquid in Switzerland. The responsible and independent ethics committee of the Greater Region of Eastern Switzerland (EKOS 17/083) approved this study.
OBJECTIVE: The objectives of the study were to research the prevalence and frequency of different types (implicit and explicit) of VSED in Switzerland; to explore the experiences, attitudes, handling and recommendations made by palliative care experts; to develop a practical recommendation about VSED, which will be validated by experts in Delphi rounds.
METHODS: This protocol describes a convergent mixed-method design to answer the research questions. In the first step, a cross-sectional trilingual survey (in German, French, and Italian) will be carried out to obtain a comprehensive representative picture of VSED in Switzerland. In the second step, qualitative research will be carried out by focus group interviews with palliative care experts. The interviews will be recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using generic coding, and embedded in an explorative descriptive qualitative approach. Based on the results of the first two steps, a practical recommendation will be developed. Experts will validate the practical recommendation in Delphi rounds.
RESULTS: The enrolment was completed in summer of 2018. Data analysis is currently underway and the first results are expected to be submitted for publication in the end of 2019.
CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study will provide important information about the prevalence and frequency of VSED as well as the interpretation of palliative care experts about handling VSED in daily work. Furthermore, the practice recommendation will help professionals and institutions to improve the quality of care in patients and their relatives who made the decision to fasten death by VSED.
INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/10358.
Background: Chronically ill persons experience conditions of life that can become unbearable, resulting in the wish to end their life prematurely. Relatives confronted with this wish experience ambivalence between loyalty to the person's desire to die and the fear of losing this person. Caring for a person during the premature dying process can be morally challenging for nurses. One way to end one's life prematurely is Voluntary Stopping of Eating and Drinking (VSED).
Methods: This embedded single case study explored the experiences of registered nurses (embedded units of analysis: ward manager, nursing manager, nursing expert) and relatives who accompanied a 49-year-old woman suffering from multiple sclerosis during VSED in a Swiss long-term care institution (main unit of analysis). By means of a within-analysis, we performed an in-depth analysis of every embedded unit of analysis and elaborated a central phenomenon for each unit. Afterwards, we searched for common patterns in a cross-analysis of the embedded units of analysis in order to develop a central model.
Results: The following central concept emerged from cross-analysis of the embedded units of analysis: As a way of ending one's life prematurely, VSED represents an unfamiliar challenge to nurses and relatives in the field of tension between one's personal attitude and the agents' concerns, fears and uncertainties. Particularly significant is the personal attitude, influenced on the one hand by one's own experiences, prior knowledge, role and faith, on the other hand by the VSED-performing person's age, disease and deliberate communication of the decision. Depending on the intention of VSED as either suicide or natural dying, an accepting or dismissing attitude evolves on an institutional and personal level.
Conclusions: To deal professionally with VSED in an institution, it is necessary to develop an attitude on the institutional and personal level. Educational measures and quality controls are required to ensure that VSED systematically becomes an option to hasten death. As VSED is a complex phenomenon, it is necessary to include palliative care in practice development early on and comprehensively. There is a high need of further research on this topic. Particularly, qualitative studies and hypothesis-testing approaches are required.
BACKGROUND: When receiving palliative care, patients and their families experience altered life situations in which they must negotiate challenges in daily life, increased care and new roles. With limited time, they also experience emotional changes that relate to their uncertain future. Transitions experienced in such situations are often studied by focusing on individual aspects, which are synthesized in the following study. The aim was to conduct a qualitative meta-synthesis to explore the experiences patients and their families gain during transitions in palliative care circumstances.
METHODS: A qualitative meta-synthesis was conducted following an inductive approach as proposed by Sandelowski and Barroso. Inclusion criteria were studies with adult persons in palliative situations and articles published in English or German. Relevant articles were identified by researching the Pubmed and Cinahl databases, as well as by hand searches in journals and reference lists for the period 2000-2015. The findings of each study were analyzed using initial coding, followed by axial and selective coding in this order. Consequently, a conceptual model was derived from the categories.
RESULTS: In total 2225 articles were identified in the literature search. Finally, 14 studies were included after the selection process. The central phenomenon observed among palliative care patients and their families was maintaining normality during transitions. Transitions are initially experienced unconsciously until a crisis occurs and responsive actions are necessary, which encourages patients and families to perceive the situation consciously and develop strategies for its negotiation. Patients remain caught between hopelessness and valuing their remaining time alive. As the illness progresses, informal caregivers reprioritize and balance their roles, and after death, family members inevitably find themselves in changed roles.
CONCLUSIONS: In palliative care situations, transitions are experienced differently by patients and their families in a constant phenomenon that oscillates between unconscious and conscious perceptions of transitions. The derived conceptual model offers an additional perspective to existing models and helps to clarify the phenomenon in practical settings. The study promotes a differentiated conceptual view of transitions and emphasizes patients' and families' perspectives.