Objective: In breast cancer patients, treatment at the end of life accounts for a major share of medical spending. However, little is known about the variability of cost trajectories between patients. This study aims to identify underlying latent groups of advanced breast cancer patients with similar cost trajectories over the last year before death.
Methods: data from deceased advanced breast cancer patients, diagnosed between 2010 and 2017, were retrieved from the Southeast Netherlands Advanced Breast Cancer (SONABRE) Registry. Costs of hospital care over the last twelve months before death were analyzed, and the variability of longitudinal patterns between patients were explored using group-based trajectory modeling. Descriptive statistics and multinomial logistic regression were applied to investigate differences between the identified latent groups.
Results: We included 558 patients. Over the last twelve months before death, mean hospital costs were €2,255 (SD = €492) per month. Costs increased over the last five months and reached a maximum of €3,614 in the last month of life, driven by hospital admissions, while spending for medication declined over the last three months of life. Based on patients’ individual cost trajectories, we identified six latent groups with distinct longitudinal patterns, of which only two showed a marked increase in costs over the last twelve months before death. Latent groups were constituted of heterogeneous patients, and clinical characteristics explained membership only to a limited extent.
Conclusions: The average costs of advanced breast cancer patients increased towards the end of life. However, we uncovered several latent groups of patients with divergent cost trajectories, which did not reflect the overall increasing trend. The mechanisms underlying the variability in cost trajectories warrants further research.
Purpose: The goal of chemotherapy for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is palliation of symptoms while minimizing treatment-related toxicities. It remains unclear whether use of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to maintain relative dose intensity of chemotherapy for MBC is associated with improved clinical outcomes.
Methods: The medical records of MBC patients treated with chemotherapy in 1st–3rd-line settings between May 2010 and April 2014 were reviewed. Time to progression (TTP), progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were compared between patients who received G-CSF and those who did not. Antibiotic use, total clinic visits, and pre- and post-treatment Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status were also compared between the groups.
Results: Of the 169 patients included, 55 (32.5%) received > 1 G-CSF dose and 114 (67.5%) did not receive any G-CSF. The median TTP was similar between the two groups (5.0 months (95% CI 3.4–7.1) vs. 5.2 months (95% CI 4.8–6.2) respectively; p = 0.998). The median PFS (p = 0.955; 5.0 months (95% CI 3.4–5.9) vs. 5.2 months (95% CI 4.7–6.0), respectively) and OS (14.6 (95% CI 9.0–26.6) vs. 18.5 months (95% CI 15.2–22.0) in G-CSF and non-G-CSF groups, respectively; p = 0.628) were also similar between groups. No significant between-group differences were noted in rate of decline in ECOG performance status, antibiotic use, and number of clinic visits and hospitalizations.
Conclusion: This retrospective analysis did not find any evidence that the use of G-CSF to maintain chemotherapy dose intensity for the treatment of MBC improves TTP, PFS, and OS or results in improved ECOG performance status compared with lack of G-CSF use in patients with MBC treated in 1st to 3rd-line settings.
BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether combining pembrolizumab with palliative radiation therapy (RT) improves outcomes in patients with hormone receptor-positive (HR+) metastatic breast cancer (MBC).
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Eligible patients had HR +/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-negative MBC; were candidates for RT to = 1 bone, soft tissue, or lymph node lesion; and had = 1 lesion outside the RT field. Patients received 200 mg pembrolizumab intravenously 2 to 7 days prior to RT and on day 1 of repeating 21-day cycles. RT was delivered to a previously unirradiated area in 5 treatments each of 4 Gy. The primary endpoint was objective response rate. The study used a 2-stage design: 8 women were enrolled into the first stage, and if at least 1 of 8 patients experienced an objective response, 19 more would be enrolled. Secondary endpoints included progression-free survival, overall survival, and safety. Exploratory endpoints included association of overall response rate with programmed death-ligand 1 status and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.
RESULTS: Eight patients were enrolled in stage 1. The median age was 59 years, and the median prior lines of chemotherapy for metastatic disease was 2. There were no objective responses, and the study was closed to further accrual. The median progression-free survival was 1.4 months (95% confidence interval, 0.4-2.1 months), and the median overall survival was 2.9 months (95% confidence interval, 0.9-3.6 months). All-cause adverse events occurred in 87.5% of patients, including just 1 grade 3 event (elevation of aspartate aminotransferase).
CONCLUSIONS: RT combined with pembrolizumab did not produce an objective response in patients with heavily pre-treated HR+ MBC. Future studies should consider alternative radiation dosing and fractionation in patients with less heavily pre-treated HR+ MBC.
INTRODUCTION: Significant number of women present with advanced-stage breast cancer in Ghana. These women usually depend on family caregivers for their multi-dimensional needs. Yet, there are gaps in research about what motivates family caregivers to assume the caring role and their experiences with caregiving within the Ghanaian context.
AIM: To explore and describe the caregiving motivations and experiences among family caregivers of patients living with advanced breast cancer.
METHODS: In-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 15 family caregivers who were providing unpaid care for women living with advanced breast cancer. Colaizzi's thematic analysis was used to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Family relationship normally prescribed the caregiving role among family caregivers. Due to the lack of home-based palliative services in Ghana, findings suggest that family caregivers are the main managers of advanced breast cancer-related symptoms in the home. These findings are discussed under three major themes: (i) motivation for assuming the caregiving role; (ii) meeting self-care and psychosocial needs of the patient; and (iii) symptom management and monitoring.
CONCLUSION: Socio-cultural values influence the role of family caregivers in Ghana. This presents opportunities for health professionals and relevant stakeholders to develop a culturally-appropriate intervention to support informal caregivers in their home-based care for women living with advanced breast cancer in Ghana.
Context: Increasing emphasis on patient-centered care has led to highlighted importance of shared decision making, which better aligns medical decisions with patient care preferences. Effective shared decision making in metastatic breast cancer (MBC) treatment requires prognostic understanding, without which patients may receive treatment inconsistent with personal preferences.
Objectives: To assess MBC patient and provider perspectives on the role of prognostic information in treatment decision making.
Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with MBC patients and community oncologists and separate focus groups involving lay navigators, nurses, and academic oncologists. Qualitative analysis utilized a content analysis approach that included a constant comparative method to generate themes.
Results: Of 20 interviewed patients with MBC, 30% were African American. Academic oncologists were mostly women (60%), community oncologists were all Caucasian, and nurses were all women and 28% African American. Lay navigators were all African American and predominately women (86%). Five emergent themes were identified. (1) Most patients wanted prognostic information but differed in when they wanted to have this conversation, (2) Emotional distress and discomfort was a critical reason for not discussing prognosis, (3) Religious beliefs shaped preferences for prognostic information, (4) Health care professionals differed on prognostic information delivery timing, and (5) Providers acknowledged that an individualized approach taking into account patient values and preferences would be beneficial.
Conclusion: Most MBC patients wanted prognostic information, yet varied in when they wanted this information. Understanding why patients want limited or unrestricted prognostic information can inform oncologists' efforts toward shared decision making.
INTRODUCTION: Palliative care (PC) aims to treat symptoms independently of the disease. In many medical disciplines, including oncology, there is an emphasis on personalizing treatment, identifying the most effective therapeutic option by studying the genetic heritage of the patient and the molecular characteristics of the disease. PC, on the other hand, encompasses the overall (physical and spiritual) well-being of the patient and his or her caregivers. The increasing use of early PC and its integration with oncology could represent a fruitful collaboration among specialists.
CASE DESCRIPTION: We present the case of a 79-year-old woman with advanced breast cancer attending our institute who was referred to our PC Unit because of continuous ear pain, paresthesia around the mouth, strabismus, and facial dysesthesia. The patient was in good clinical condition (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group 1) and was undergoing chemotherapy at the time. For these reasons, the PC physician carefully assessed the pain characteristics and differential diagnosis and discussed them with the oncologist, radiologist, and neurologist. Joint consultation led to a specific study of Meckel cave by MRI, revealing an extrameningeal gasserian ganglion metastasis, a very rare localization of breast cancer.
CONCLUSION: We present a case that underlines the importance of specialized PC assessment not limited to the control of symptoms. The search for the etiopathogenesis of a patient's symptoms and the evaluation of overall clinical conditions may be necessary to plan appropriate diagnostic evaluations, target palliative therapies, and achieve effective symptom control.
BACKGROUND: Metastatic breast cancer (MBC) is generally incurable, but patients can survive longer than those with other cancer types. Treatment strategies for MBC are complex, and it is difficult to establish evidence of efficacy since symptoms and patient backgrounds vary markedly. Some patients struggle to decide where to receive end-of-life care, despite palliative care intervention, and some die in unexpected places. With the aim of ascertaining the best way to intervene on behalf of patients with end-stage breast cancer, we retrospectively examined interventions provided by our palliative care team. We investigated factors influencing the decision-making processes of patients with MBC regarding end-of-life care locations and where patients actually died.
METHODS: Clinical records of 44 patients with MBC, all Japanese women, who received palliative care interventions at our hospital, were retrospectively investigated. We examined factors, such as age, possibly impacting decision-making processes regarding the final location and actual place of death.
RESULTS: Thirty-five (80%) patients were able to decide where to receive end-of-life care, while the others were not. For these 35 patients, desired locations were the palliative care unit (77%), home palliative care (14%), and the hospital (9%). Age and recurrence-free survival (RFS) were factors influencing patients' decision-making processes (P = .030 and .044, respectively). Of the 35 patients, 25 (71%) were able to receive end-of-life care at their desired locations.
CONCLUSIONS: Young patients and those with short RFS struggled with making decisions regarding where to receive end-of-life care. Such patients might benefit from prompt introduction of advanced care planning.
BACKGROUND: In the absence of randomized controlled trials, real-world evidence may aid practitioners in optimizing the selection of therapy for patients with cancer. The study's aim was to determine real-word use, as well as compare effectiveness, of single-agent and combination chemotherapy as palliative treatment for female patients with metastatic breast cancer (mBC).
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Using administrative claims data from the Symphony Health's Integrated Oncology Dataverse, female patients with mBC treated with at least one chemotherapy-only treatment (COT) between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017 were selected. The frequency of use of single-agent versus combination chemotherapy overall and by line of therapy (LOT) was calculated whereas effectiveness was measured using time to next treatment (TNT).
RESULTS: A total of 12,381 patients with mBC were identified, and 3,777 (31%) received at least one line of COT. Of the 5,586 observed LOTs among the 3,777 patients, 66.5% were single-agent and 33.5% combination chemotherapy. Combination chemotherapy was most frequently used in first-line (45%) and least frequently in fifth-line (16%). Across all LOTs, median TNT was significantly longer for single-agent versus combination chemotherapy (5.3 months vs. 4.1 months, p < .0001). Comparison of median TNT by LOT showed significance in third-line and greater but not in first-line or second-line. Among single agents, the median TNT for patients receiving capecitabine was longest in comparison to all other single agents.
CONCLUSIONS: The frequency of combination COT use, particularly in first-line, warrants further research given published guideline recommendations. The observed TNT difference favoring single-agent treatment in later lines supports guideline recommendations. Variance between single-agent preference and observed TNT was noteworthy.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Although published data from evidence- and consensus-based guidelines recommend single-agent over combination chemotherapy, the extensive list of agents available for use and a gap in the comparative effectiveness research of these agents have resulted in significant variances in patterns of care. The aim of this study was to assess real-world treatment patterns and their effectiveness during palliative therapy of metastatic breast cancer. The objective was to understand when and how chemotherapy-only treatment is used in metastatic breast cancer and whether comparative effectiveness analysis supports the observed patterns of care.
Introduction: Custody concerns are a major source of psychosocial distress among single parents with life-limiting illness. Although children are increasingly living in diverse household structures, the current health care system is not designed to meet the unique needs of single parents or nontraditional families. Patients with unaddressed custody concerns can experience psychological suffering during treatment and at the end of life. Lack of clarity and resolution regarding guardianship may also result in additional hardship for their grieving children.
Case Description: We present the case of a 36-year-old-female with metastatic breast cancer, who was the single mother of four children. Despite significant concerns about her children's well-being, the patient did not complete legal guardianship processes. She experienced immense distress at the end of her life due to an unresolved custody plan.
Discussion: This case demonstrates the need for addressing custody and guardianship concerns with seriously ill patients early in the illness trajectory. While clinicians need not become experts on custody and guardianship themselves, understanding the impact of custody concerns-and the barriers to their resolution-can substantially improve end-of-life care for patients and better equip surviving family for the changes that lie ahead.
CONTEXT: Patients with advanced breast cancer have low rates of survival that can be associated with symptom burden.
OBJECTIVES: This study seeks to characterize the effect of longitudinally-collected symptom scores on predicting time to death for advanced breast cancer patients.
METHODS: A cohort of 993 Stage IV breast cancer patients was constructed using linked population-level health administrative databases that captured longitudinally-collected symptom data using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System. Data was captured on individual symptom scores (20,371 assessments) for pain, tiredness, drowsiness, nausea, appetite, dyspnea, depression, anxiety and wellbeing, as well as three summative scores of total symptom distress score (TSDS), physical symptom score, and psychological symptom score. A joint modelling approach was undertaken to simultaneously model repeated measures longitudinal data and time-to-event data.
RESULTS: Of patients who died in the study, 56.11% survived for a mean time of less than three years and had lower mean symptom scores for all symptoms except shortness of breath, in comparison to patients who lived for greater than three years. Symptom burden was predictive of patient time to death for all symptoms, with risk of death increasing with worsening symptom scores. For TSDS, age at diagnosis (0.009, p<0.05), chemotherapy (-0.63, p<0.001) and palliative care (3.15, p<0.001) were significant predictors of patient time to death.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with advanced breast cancer experience chronic, ongoing low symptom burden which predicts patient time to death. Future research should examine the mechanisms by which patient characteristics, treatment, supportive and palliative care can have an impact on patient survival.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care consultation during serious life-limiting illness can reduce symptom burden and improve quality of care. However, quantifying the impact of palliative care is hindered by the limitations of manual chart review and administrative coding.
OBJECTIVES: Using novel natural language process (NLP) techniques, we examined associations between palliative care consultations and performance on nationally endorsed metrics for high-quality end-of-life (EOL) care in patients with leptomeningeal disease (LMD) secondary to metastatic breast cancer.
METHODS: Patients with breast cancer with LMD were identified using administrative billing codes and NLP review of magnetic resonance imaging reports at 2 tertiary care centers between 2010 and 2016. Next, NLP was used to review clinical notes to (1) determine the presence of palliative care consultations and (2) determine the performance of process measures associated with high-quality EOL care, including discussions of goals of care, code status limitations, and hospice. Associations between palliative care consultation and documentation of EOL process measures were assessed using logistic regression.
RESULTS: We identified 183 cases of LMD. Median age was 56 (interquartile range [IQR]: 46-64) years and median survival was 150 days (IQR: 67-350). Within 6 months of diagnosis, 88.5% of patients had documentation of =1 process measure, including discussions of goals of care (63.4%), code status limitations (62.8%), or hospice (72.1%). Palliative care consultation was a predictor of subsequent documentation of goals of care (odds ratio [OR], 3.15; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.58-6.27) and hospice discussions (OR, 4.61; 95% CI, 2.12-10.03).
CONCLUSION: Palliative care involvement is associated with increased performance of EOL process measures in patients with breast cancer with LMD.
Background: Anticipating and making health care decisions about appropriate or preferred treatment around end-of-life care are intellectually challenging and emotionally distressing for metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients, new interventions are needed.
Objective: This study examined the effect of Four Conversations, an online and personalized coping and decision aid curriculum, on the completion of advance care directives and shared decision making among patients and their loved ones, clinicians, and spirit.
Design: Participants were randomized 1:1 to Four Conversations or wait-listed usual care conditions.
Setting: Adult breast cancer survivors with metastatic disease were recruited nationally.
Measurements: Electronic surveys collected self-reported demographic, clinical, and outcome data at baseline and four weeks postintervention.
Results: Participants (N = 252) were mean age 53.6 ± 11.0 years; 100% female; 88% Caucasian; 67% married; and 33% employed. Over half (54%) of treatment arm participants without an advance directive completed one by study end, most (62%) felt that Four Conversations helped them quite a bit or a great deal in making a better decision, and 90% would recommend to others. Difference in the change in decisional conflict scores for treatment and control conditions was not significant (p = 0.07).
Conclusions: These results suggest that Four Conversations facilitated the completion of advance care directives. Given that reductions in decisional conflict scores between the treatment and control arms were not significant, we cannot conclude that program use was associated with improved decisional conflict among MBC survivors. Online programs can be a feasible and effective alternative to in-person support.
PURPOSE: Among breast cancer subgroups, Luminal A is the subgroup with the best prognosis. We report the case of a young woman presenting with a localized luminal A breast cancer with a suspicious liver lesion on initial positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scan staging.
CASE DESCRIPTION: A 31-year-old woman presented with localized breast cancer accessible to curative treatment. However, PET/CT staging revealed an increase of focal activity in the liver, suspicious of a secondary malignant localization, changing the care towards palliative intent. Discrepancy between breast cancer luminal A subtype and the liver lesion led to further investigations (contrast ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging, and biopsy), excluding a malignant process, and were in favor of toxic hepatitis, probably secondary to herbal tea consumption.
CONCLUSIONS: Questioning PET/CT findings in light of the cancer subtype enabled us to rectify the diagnosis and allow this patient to be treated with curative intent.
In the Netherlands, approximately 1300 women aged =75 years die every year of metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Data on palliative chemotherapy (CT) in very elderly patients are rare, and prospective studies appeared cumbersome. Therefore, we retrospectively analyzed the outcome and feasibility of chemotherapy in elderly MBC patients. Records of all patients with MBC aged =75 years who received first-line palliative chemotherapy between January 2000 and December 2014 at two large teaching hospitals in the Netherlands were reviewed. We registered patient and tumor characteristics together with data on previous adjuvant treatment, palliative endocrine treatment, comorbidities, clinical benefit (defined as =6 months progression-free survival), toxicity, and the reason for stopping chemotherapy. Patients with progressive disease (PD) or death within 30 days after starting CT were censored from analysis. A total of 54 patients with a median age of 77.6 years (range 75-90) were treated with palliative chemotherapy for MBC. Of them, 20 patients (37%) were aged = 80 years. There was clinical benefit in 28 patients (52%). Median progression-free survival and median overall survival were 6.0 and 14.0 months, respectively. One year after the diagnosis of MBC, 27 patients (50%) were still alive and 15 patients (28%) lived longer than 2 years. Reasons for stopping CT were progressive disease (n = 32) or toxicity (n = 13). Most patients (n = 48) died of MBC while two patients died of toxicity. In selected patients with MBC aged 75 years or older, single-agent palliative chemotherapy is feasible and may have clinical benefit.
Je me souviendrai toujours du lundi 24 octobre 2016, à 17h40, à l’hôpital privé d’Antony. Au lendemain de mes 45 ans, le diagnostic tombe : "métastases ans les ganglions axillaires". Les nombreux examens se succèderont pendant deux semaines pour révéler un cancer du sein peu différencié, sans que la tumeur primitive ait pu être localisée. Certes, je me sentais fatiguée depuis quelque temps, j’avais commencé à imaginer quelque chose de grave à cause de cette boule au creux, depuis janvier, mais comme tous les malades, je suppose, l’annonce a l’effet d’un tsunami.
Background: Incurable inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients occasionally suffer from general symptoms such as breast pain, bleeding, ulceration, and discharge, and thus require palliative radiotherapy (RT). Hypofractionated RT has many advantages in palliative settings, but very few studies on IBC have been conducted. This study was conducted to evaluate the effects of hypofractionated RT on symptomatic IBC patients.
Methods: Twenty-two patients with IBC who underwent hypofractionated palliative RT between 2010 and 2016 were retrospectively analyzed. RT was performed at a total dose of 42.5-55 Gy with 2.5-3 Gy per fraction. The treatment effects were evaluated with respect to symptom improvement, tumor response, and treatment-related toxicity.
Results: The main symptoms that the patients complained of before RT were pain, bleeding, and discharge. According to the percentage of symptom relief compared with pre-RT symptoms, the number of patients with < 30, 30-70%, and >= 70% were 2 (9.1%), 7 (31.8%), and 13 (59.1%), respectively. Eighteen (81.8%) patients showed tumor response. No patient experienced grade 3 or higher acute or chronic toxicity during a median follow-up period of 13 months. In univariate analysis, symptom type was a significant factor for predicting the degree of symptom relief. Meanwhile, RT field and C-reactive protein increase were significant factors for predicting the incidence of radiation-induced skin toxicity.
Conclusions: Hypofractionated RT could safely and effectively relieve symptoms among incurable symptomatic IBC patients.
Background: Opioid refractory pain is a common problem in pain management. Dexmedetomidine is suggested to have opioid-sparing effects, with well-described use in surgical and intensive care unit settings. Some authors advocate its benefit in reducing delirium. Its effects are thought to be exhibited through agonism of pre- and postsynpatic a2-receptors in the central nervous system. It is more selective on a2-receptors than clonidine, accounting for its relatively lower incidence of hypotension. Its use in sedation is favored because it does not depress the respiratory system. The main side effects reported include bradycardia.
Case Description: Twenty-eight-year-old woman with triple negative left breast cancer and a locally destructive tumor was admitted to hospice after exhausting her disease-directed therapy options. Her chief complaint was a throbbing, burning pain to the left chest wall, lower back, and bilateral lower extremities, rated 8/10 on a 10-point verbal scale. Multiple pharmacologic agents for pain, including patient-controlled analgesia infusions with adjuvant methadone and steroids, had failed to provide consistent pain management. Symptoms were difficult to control in the home setting, and she required multiple admissions to our inpatient hospice unit for pain management. She also developed episodes of delirium shortly after hospice admission. We attributed her symptoms to rapid disease progression. After failed pain control with opioids, ketamine, and lidocaine, we trialed a dexmedetomidine infusion. While on the infusion, her pain rating decreased to 0/10 and she had no delirium. Pain recurred soon after cessation of the infusion, initially rated 6/10.
Conclusion: Dexmedetomidine is safe for opioid refractory pain in the hospice inpatient setting. However, its effects may not be sustained. There is potential for use in end-of-life care, with added benefit for possible control of delirium.
BACKGROUND: Women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) experience unique symptom management and psychosocial needs due to aggressive, yet palliative treatment with a progressive, chronic illness.
OBJECTIVE: This article describes the effect of a quality improvement project for coordination of supportive care in MBC. Program evaluations included referral rates for supportive services, patient-reported outcomes of symptom distress, generalized anxiety, and overall well-being.
DESIGN: An interdisciplinary Support, Education and Advocacy Program (MBC-SEA) was developed. The 1-hour, weekly, patient review included collaborative assessments to determine needs for social service, psychological counseling, and palliative care. A prospective pre- and postexperimental cohort design with convenience sampling was used. Analysis was conducted with paired t test analysis of pre- and postimplementation outcomes.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Program outcomes of 118 women with MBC visiting an urban outpatient breast cancer clinic during September 2016 to November 2016 (pre) and January 2017 to March 2017 (post) were evaluated.
MEASUREMENTS: Referral rates to social work and palliative care, symptom, anxiety, and overall well-being scores.
RESULTS: Following program implementation, referrals to palliative care and social work supportive services increased significantly including patient-reported outcomes symptom distress scores mean difference 1.4 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.4306-2.6428), P = .004; generalized anxiety scores mean difference 1.5 (95% CI: 0.5406-2.5781), P = .003; and overall well-being mean difference of -0.7 (95% CI: -1.3498 to -0.0570), P = .03.
CONCLUSIONS: Purposeful nurse-led assessment for social service and palliative care needs increases referrals with improvement in patient-reported outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: To describe psycho-oncological care structures and processes in German breast cancer centres from the perspective of the centre administration.
METHODS: The findings are based on a postal survey of a representative random sample of surgical sites of certified breast cancer centres in Germany. Data were collected in 2013 and 2014. The questionnaire included questions about infrastructure, patient information standards, psycho-oncological services and aspects of organisational culture. Data analyses included frequencies, means and bivariate relationships.
RESULTS: The return rate was 88.3% (53 hospital sites). Psycho-oncological care is provided by permanent employees in 87%. The average number of full-time-equivalent employees (FTE) is 1.23. Most breast cancer centres engage the occupational group of psycho-oncologists for psycho-oncological care (90%), followed by the medical service (80%) and breast care nurses (78%) (multiple answers were possible). The correlation coefficient between FTEs and surgical treatments per year is not significant (r=0.292, p=0.051). Hospitals are screening every inpatient for the need of psycho-oncological support in 76% of all sites. Frequently used screening instruments are distress thermometer (19%), clinical interview (13%) and basic psycho-oncological documentation (11%).
CONCLUSION: Our data provide insights into the self-reported structural and procedural quality of psycho-oncological care in German breast cancer centres. Further research should examine patient and caregiver perspective on the psycho-oncological services provided by breast cancer centres.
Context: Spirituality is the essence of a human being. Patients who have good spiritual well-being (SWB) will also have better quality of life. However, health-care providers usually under-assess this aspect due to lack of practical guideline. In Thailand, the validated survey came from a different cultural background and was heavily based on Buddhism approach.
Aims: The aim of the study is to assess the meaning of spirituality and SWB in Thai breast cancer patients in Southern Thailand where people have more diverse cultural and religious background.
Settings and Design: Descriptive qualitative phenomenology design.
Subjects and Methods: In-depth interview with stratified purposive sampling method. The interviews took place in the oncology outpatient unit department and participants' home. Inclusion criteria were being diagnosed with breast cancer, age over 18 years old, able to communicate in Thai, has a Palliative Performance Scale more than 50, and was not diagnosed with any psychological disorder.
Statistical Analysis Used: Descriptive statistic.
Results: From October 2016 to February 2018, 16 women joined the study. Three themes emerged with five subthemes: (1) feeling life worthwhile, (2) sense of belonging in the community, and (3) feeling connected to the nature.
Conclusions: For Thai women, who have breast cancer, their spirituality focuses on family, mainly their children. They also have better SWB if they have good family relationship, social support, or feeling connected with nature or higher being in a religious or nonreligious way. Future survey design needs to be broader in a secular view and on another perspective rather than the religious approach.