Dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, but traditionally it has not been considered a terminal or life-limiting condition. As a result, little significance may be placed on advance care planning (ACP) for people with dementia. Evidence suggests that most patients with advanced dementia have often not been given an opportunity to complete an advance care plan and have not had conversations with their families about their wishes and preferences at the end of life. This article reports on a literature review that aimed to explore the evidence on the introduction of ACP in achieving preferred place of care or death for people living with dementia, and reducing carer burden. The literature review found that ACP discussions have several benefits for people with dementia and their family carers, but that various factors can support or hinder such discussions. It concludes that these people and their families need to plan for end of life and suggests that ACP can increase the likelihood of achieving their preferred place of care and death and reducing decisional burden for carers.
BACKGROUND: Research with persons with dementia is important to better understand the causes of dementia and to develop more effective diagnostics, therapies, and preventive measures. Advance Research Directives (ARDs) have been suggested as a possible solution to include persons with dementia in research in an ethically sound way. Little is known about how people, especially those affected by cognitive impairment, understand and regard the use of ARDs, as empirical studies are mainly conducted with healthy, non-cognitively impaired, participants.
METHODS: This qualitative study, a sub-study of a larger study on the evaluation of ARDs in the context of dementia research in Germany, consists of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 24 persons with cognitive impairment.
RESULTS: Our results indicate that most participants consider ARDs a valuable tool for allowing them to make their own decisions. Many would prefer to draft an ARD when they are still healthy or soon after the diagnosis of cognitive impairment. Participants suggested that the completion of ARDs can be advanced with the provision of practical support and increased dissemination of information on ARDs in society.
CONCLUSION: Persons with subjective or mild cognitive impairment (SCI/MCI) suggested several motivating factors and concerns for completing an ARD. Clinicians need to be trained to accommodate patients' needs for sufficient and adequate information. Furthermore, a standardised, partly pre-formulated template could be helpful for drafting an ARD. As such tested templates are currently not yet available, this addresses the urgent need for more translational and implementation research for the use of ARDs.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To explore the opinion of the Dutch general public and of physicians regarding euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey.
SETTING: The Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Random samples of 1,965 citizens (response = 1,965/2,641 [75%]) and 1,147 physicians (response = 1,147/2,232 [51%]).
MEASUREMENTS: The general public was asked to what extent they agreed with the statement "I think that people with dementia should be eligible for euthanasia, even if they no longer understand what is happening (if they have previously asked for it)." Physicians were asked whether they were of the opinion that performing euthanasia is conceivable in patients with advanced dementia, on the basis of a written advance directive, in the absence of severe comorbidities. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify factors associated with the acceptance of euthanasia.
RESULTS: A total of 60% of the general public agreed that people with advanced dementia should be eligible for euthanasia. Factors associated with a positive attitude toward euthanasia were being female, age between 40 and 69 years, and higher educational level. Considering religion important was associated with lower acceptance. The percentage of physicians who considered it acceptable to perform euthanasia in people with advanced dementia was 24% for general practitioners, 23% for clinical specialists, and 8% for nursing home physicians. Having ever performed euthanasia before was positively associated with physicians considering euthanasia conceivable. Being female, having religious beliefs, and being a nursing home physician were negatively associated with regarding performing euthanasia as conceivable.
CONCLUSION: There is a discrepancy between public acceptance of euthanasia in patients with advanced dementia and physicians' conceivability of performing euthanasia in these patients. This discrepancy may cause tensions in daily practice because patients' and families' expectations may not be met. It urges patients, families, and physicians to discuss mutual expectations in these complex situations in a comprehensive and timely manner.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Hospice care confers well-documented benefits to patients and their families, but it is underutilized. One potential reason is inadequate family support to make end-of-life decisions and care for older adults on hospice at home. We assessed the association between amount of family support and hospice use among a population of decedents and among specific illness types.
DESIGN: Prospective cohort study using the National Health and Aging Trends Study waves 2011 to 2017, linked to Medicare claims data.
SETTING: Contiguous United States.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 1,868 NHATS decedents.
MEASUREMENTS: Outcome variable was 1 day or longer of hospice. Family caregiving intensity was measured by self-reported hours of care per week and number of caregivers. Covariates included probable dementia status and other demographic, clinical, and functional characteristics.
RESULTS: At the end of life, hours of family caregiving and numbers of helpers vary widely with individuals with dementia receiving the most hours of unpaid care (mean = 64.5 hours per week) and having 2.4 unpaid caregivers on average. In an adjusted analysis, older adults with cancer receiving 40 hours and more of unpaid care/week as compared with fewer than 6 hours per week were twice as likely to receive hospice care at the end of life (odds ratio = 2.0; 95% confidence interval = 1.0-4.1). This association was not seen among those with dementia or among decedents in general. No significant association was found between number of caregivers and hospice use at the end of life.
CONCLUSION: Older adults at the end of life receive a high number of hours of help at the end of life, many from more than one caregiver, which may shape hospice access. Better understanding of disparities in hospice use can facilitate timely access to care for older adults with a serious illness.
Objectives: We evaluated the trend of end-of-life healthcare utilization and life-sustaining interventions for older adults with dementia 3 to 4 years after the change in hospice policy.
Design: Population-based retrospective cohort study.
Setting and participants: we used the National Health Insurance Research database of enrolled patients =65 years of age diagnosed with dementia who died in 2010-2013 (n = 2062).
Methods: Aggressive treatments, including healthcare utilization and life-sustaining interventions, were recorded within 6 months of death. Aggressive healthcare utilization included =1 emergency department visits, =1 hospitalizations, >14 days of hospitalization, intensive care unit admission, and death in an acute care hospital. Life-sustaining interventions were enteral tube, artificial nutrition, blood transfusion, hemodialysis, invasive ventilation, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Results: Compared with 2010 2012, 2013 rates significantly decreased for all measures (P < .001). Composite scores of healthcare utilization and life-sustaining treatments in 2013 were significantly lower than for 2010 2012, after controlling for confounding variables (both P < .001).
Conclusions and implications: Older patients with dementia had a trend of reduced healthcare utilization and fewer life-sustaining treatments near the end of life from 2010 to 2013 after a policy change.
Alongside increasing rates of dementia diagnoses worldwide, efforts to seek alternative end-of-life options also increase. While the concept of assisted dying remains controversial, the discussion around its provision for people with dementia raises even more sensitivity. In this study, we explored how the practice of assisted dying for people with dementia is conceptualized and understood using the shared narratives of online contributors. An observational netnography over 20 months was carried out within five open Facebook communities. Thematic analysis was conducted on 1,007 online comments about assisted dying and dementia. Results reflected four central themes and five subthemes: understanding dementia; understanding assisted dying laws; caregivers’ feelings; and moral/personal dilemmas. Findings reveal that the majority of communities’ contributors fear developing dementia. They support the provision of advance euthanasia directives—written by competent patients—to prevent unnecessary suffering, and protect patients’ wishes and freedom of choice when decision-making competency is lost.
Background: There is a growing emphasis on the importance of availability of specialist palliative care for people living with dementia. However, for people imminently dying with dementia, we still have little knowledge about their palliative care needs and utilization of different specialist services.
Objectives: To (i) assess palliative care needs and other clinical and social characteristics of people imminently dying with dementia on their last admission in the context of community and inpatient palliative care services before death; (ii) compare care needs between patients requiring community-based and inpatient services; (iii) determine how and whether such care needs affect utilization of different palliative care services.
Design: Observational study using data from the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration.
Settings: Specialist palliative care services across Australia registered in the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration.
Participants: A total of 3361 people who required specialist palliative care principally for dementia (including Alzheimer's disease and other dementias), and whose death occurred between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2018.
Methods: Five validated clinical instruments were used to collect point-of-care outcomes on each individual's function (Resource Utilisation Groups - Activities of Daily Living & Australia-modified Karnofsky Performance Status), symptom distress (Symptoms Assessment Scale & Palliative Care Problem Severity Score) and other clinical characteristics (Palliative Care Phases). We fitted multivariate logistic regression models to examine the association between these clinical outcomes and utilization of different specialist palliative care services.
Results: The majority of people imminently dying with dementia had absent or mild levels of symptom distress but experienced high levels of functional decline and needed substantial assistance with basic tasks of daily living in their last days of life. Large disparities in symptoms distress and functional decline between inpatient and community groups were not observed although differences in assessment scores were often statistically significant. Poor functional outcomes (odds ratio = 1.77, 95% confidence interval: 1.24–2.52) and “non-stable” palliative care phases (odds ratio =24.51, 95% confidence interval: 12.03–49.96) were positively associated with use of inpatient versus community palliative care, whereas there was no clear association between the majority of symptoms and use of different care services.
Conclusions: The majority of people imminently dying with dementia could potentially benefit from greater access to supportive services in the community. Development of a dementia-specific palliative care pathway is needed to promote needs-based palliative care delivery models.
Objectives: To identify the types of factors included in research examining mortality in patients with dementia, and to stratify the identified factors by care settings.
Design: We systematically searched PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO and the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) databases, and identified grey literature from the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, Open Grey and Grey Literature Report. Two authors independently screened for eligibility of studies. Independent reviewers extracted relevant study information. We conducted a narrative synthesis of the data.
Results: We identified 8254 articles, of which 94 met the inclusion criteria. More than half (n=53) were published between 2009 and 2018 with half from Europe. Studies were conducted across hospices/nursing homes (n=25), hospital (n=23), outpatient clinics (n=21), mixed settings (n=15) and in the community (n=10). Nearly 60% adopted a prospective cohort study design with 87% performing multivariable analysis. Overall, 239 variables were identified and classified into six themes—individual factors, health status, functional ability, cognition and mental health, treatments and health system factors. Although a general set of factors were common across all studies, when stratified by care settings, variations were seen in the specific variables included.
Conclusion: Identifying prognostic variables relevant to the dementia population in each setting is key to facilitate appropriate care plans and to ensure timely access to palliative care options. Future research should also focus on ensuring the replicability of prognostic models and to generate a better understanding of the direct and interacting influence of the identified factors on mortality.
Objectives: Hospice use reduces costly aggressive end-of-life (EOL) care (eg, repeated hospitalizations, intensive care unit care, and emergency department visits). Nevertheless, associations between hospice stays and EOL expenditures in prior research have been inconsistent. We examined the differential associations between hospice stay duration and EOL expenditures among newly diagnosed patients with cancer, congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dementia.
Methods: In the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare data, we identified 240 246 decedents diagnosed with the aforementioned conditions during 2001 to 2013. We used zero-inflated negative binomial regression models to examine the differential associations between hospice length of services and EOL expenditures incurred during the last 90, 180, and 360 days of life.
Results: For the last 360 days of expenditures, hospice stays beyond 30 days were positively associated with expenditures for decedents with COPD, CHF, and dementia but were negatively associated for cancer decedents (all P<.001) after adjusting for demographic and medical covariates. In contrast, for the last 90 days of expenditures, hospice stay duration and expenditures were consistently negatively associated for each of the 4 patient disease groups.
Conclusions: Longer hospice stays were associated with lower 360-day expenditures for cancer patients but higher expenditures for other patients. We recommend that Medicare hospice payment reforms take distinct disease trajectories into account. The relationship between expenditures and hospice stay length also depended on the measurement duration, such that measuring expenditures for the last 6 months of life or less overstates the cost-saving benefit of lengthy hospice stays.
Background: We compare the End of Life [EoL] period, the period of decline to death, for persons with dementia [PwD] to those without dementia, examining the duration and number of stages, and their precipitating events.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, 70 primary caregivers of decedents were interviewed. Frequencies were compared using the McNemar statistical test.
Results: PwD were more likely to be female and older, compared to those without dementia. For PwD, the reported duration of the EoL period was significantly longer, involved more stages, and included a longer first stage. Precipitating events for EoL were more likely to include cognitive decline for PwD, but for those without, more likely to involve a new medical diagnosis or decline in health status.
Discussion: End of Life as the final stage of development differs significantly between the two populations in length and other parameters. This has considerable implications for the experiences of PwD.
Background: As the mortality attributable to dementia-related diseases in the United States escalates, providing quality and equitable end-of-life care for dementia patients across care settings has become a major public health challenge. Previous research suggests that place of death may be an indicator of quality of end-of-life care. This study aims to examine the geographical variations and temporal trends in place of death of dementia decedents in the US and the relationships between place of death of dementia decedents and broad structural determinants.
Methods: Using nationwide death certificates between 2000 and 2014, we described the changes in place of death of dementia decedents across states and over time. Chi-square test for trend in proportions was used to test significant linear trend in the proportion of dementia decedents at difference places. State fixed effects models were estimated to assess the relationships between the proportion of dementia decedents at difference places and state-level factors, particularly availability of care facility resources and public health insurance expenditures.
Results: Dementia decedents were more likely to die at home and other places and less likely to die at institutional settings over the study period. There was wide inter-state and temporal variability in the proportions of deaths at different places. Among state-level factors, availability of nursing home beds was positively associated with rates of nursing home/long term care deaths and negatively associated with rates of home deaths. Medicaid expenditure on institutional long term supports and services was positively associated with rates of nursing home/long term care deaths and negatively associated with rates of home deaths. Medicaid expenditure on home and community based services, however, had a positive association with rates of home deaths.
Conclusions: There was a persistent shift in the place of death of dementia decedents from institutions to homes and communities. Increased investments in home and community based health services may help dementia patients to die at their homes. As home becomes an increasingly common place of death of dementia patients, it is critical to monitor the quality of end-of-life care at this setting.
Due to cultural traditions, most Taiwanese do not have an advance directive or healthcare proxy. We explored how patients with mild dementia in Taiwan may still make self-determined decisions concerning advance directives for their healthcare and end-of-life care choices as the disease progresses. We examined 260 respondents with mild dementia at a Taiwan medical center: 199 patients who agreed (and 61 patients who disagreed) with the concept of advance directives completed a structured questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression models to determine the between-group differences revealed that the following were positively associated with approval of end-of-life directives: maintaining one's quality of life (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.44; 95% CI: 1.07-5.53), discussion with family members (AOR, 3.50; 95% CI: 1.49-8.26), and friend support networks (AOR, 3.36; 95% CI: 1.34-8.43). Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (AOR, 0.27; 95% CI: 0.09-0.79) was negatively associated with approval. There was also a positive association between the support of the legal validity of end-of-life directives (OR, 1.93; 95% CI: 1.07-3.48), without other confounding factors. In Taiwanese society, we remain mindful of cultural influences that may impact patients, including maintaining one's quality of life, discussion with family members, and friend/support networks. These influences may help dementia patients complete their advance directives.
Dementia is one of the prominent conditions for which an aging population has been seeking end-of-life solutions such as assisted dying. Individuals with dementia, however, are often unable to meet the eligibility criteria of being mentally competent and are thus discriminated against in relation to assisted dying laws. Provided that the assisted death directive is being made in sound mind, it is still of concern whether these advance directives can be appropriately framed and safeguarded to protect the wish of these vulnerable individuals while preventing harm. Therefore, to establish consensus views of experts on primary issues of, and concerns about, assisted dying for individuals with dementia as well as exploring tentative conceptual framework to safeguard practice and application, a three-round Delphi study was conducted. A core group of 12 experts from five countries was recruited comprising expertise in domains relevant to assisted dying and dementia. A semantic-thematic approach was applied to analyze the 119 generated statements. Evaluation of these research statements resulted in full consensus of 84 (70%) items. Our primary findings highlight seven core domains: applicability of assisted dying for dementia; ethical, practical, and pathological issues regarding the application of assisted dying; and ethical, legal, and professional recommendations for the ways forward. Despite the issues surrounding the provision of assisted death for individuals with dementia, our findings lead us to cautiously conclude that devising "adequate" safeguards is achievable. The result of this research may benefit future research and practice.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: acute hospitalization may be an ideal opportunity to introduce palliative care to dementia patients, who may benefit from symptom management and goals of care discussions. We know little about patients who receive inpatient palliative care consultations (IPCCs).
DESIGN: Retrospective analysis using electronic medical record.
SETTING: Tertiary academic medical center and affiliated community hospital.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients with dementia by International Classification of Diseases diagnosis, 65 years or older, hospitalized between July 1, 2015, and December 31, 2015.
MEASUREMENTS: We used 2 and t -test/Mann-Whitney U test to compare characteristics (living arrangement, advanced dementia markers, diagnoses of delirium and dementia with behavior disturbance, and admitting diagnosis) and outcomes (change in code status, length of stay [LOS], discharge disposition, and discharge medications for symptom management) of patients who did and did not receive IPCC. Patients were matched on sex, age, and race.
RESULTS: Among 927 hospitalized patients with dementia, 17% received IPCC (N = 157). Patients who received IPCC were more likely to be admitted from a nursing facility (35.7% vs 12.7%; P < .0001), experience delirium (71.3% vs 57.3%; P = .01), have behavior disturbance (23.6% vs 13.4%; P = .02), have a pressure ulcer at admission (26.1% vs 11.5%; P = .001), have hypernatremia (12.7% vs 3.2%; P = .002), and be bedbound (20.4% vs 3.2%; P < .000). Patients who received IPCC had a longer LOS (median = 5.9 vs 4.3 days; P = .004) and were more likely to be discharged to hospice (56% vs 3.1%; P < .0001). Patients with IPCC were more likely to have a discharge code status of do not attempt resuscitation (89% vs 46%). There was no significant difference in comfort medications at discharge between groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients who received IPCC had evidence of more advanced dementia. These patients were more likely to change their code status and enroll in hospice. IPCC may be useful to prioritize patient-centered care and discuss what matters most to patients and families.
BACKGROUND: End of life care is often inadequate for people with dementia. Advanced care planning (ACP) has the potential to improve outcomes for people with dementia. The aim of this review is to establish the strength of the evidence and provide decision makers with a clear understanding of what is known about ACP for people living with dementia.
DESIGN: Evidence synthesis including systematic reviews and primary studies. PROSPERO registration: CRD42018107718.
DATA SOURCES: PubMed, CINAHL Plus, SCOPUS, Social Care Online and Cochrane Library were searched (July 2018). No year limit applied. To be included, reviews had to evaluate effectiveness of ACP for people with dementia or report on views and experiences of ACP from the perspective of people with dementia, carers, or health and care professionals. Additional searches (September 2018) were conducted to identify recent primary studies not included in the reviews.
REVIEW METHODS: Data extraction was undertaken by one reviewer and checked by a second. Methodological quality was assessed using AMSTAR-2 and Joanna Briggs Institute instruments by two authors independently. Outcomes were categorized and tabulated to assess effectiveness. Qualitative data was analysed using thematic synthesis.
RESULTS: Nineteen reviews (163 unique studies) and 11 primary articles with a range of advance care planning definitions and of variable quality were included. Advance care planning was associated with decreased hospitalizations, increased concordance between care received and prior wishes and increased completion of advance care planning documents but quality of primary research was variable. Views of ACP for people with dementia can be clustered around six themes; 1) timing and tailoring, 2) willingness to engage, 3) roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals, 4) relationships, 5) training and 6) resources needed. Diminishing decision-making capacity over time is a key overarching feature.
CONCLUSIONS: Advance care planning is acceptable for people with dementia and their carers and is associated with improved outcomes. Guidelines on which outcomes and which definition to use are necessary, as is research to test different approaches to ACP. Education on topics related to diminishing decision-making capacity is key to optimize advance care planning for people with dementia and their carers.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: I review ethical and legal challenges for end of life (EOL) care in dementia. Is access to hospice care for dementia patients impacted by Medicare's terminal prognosis requirement? Are dementia-specific advance directives warranted? How does state legislation affect dementia patients' EOL options? Should dementia patients' be able to refuse orally ingested food and fluids by advance directive?
RECENT FINDINGS: The difficulty of predicting time to death in dementia inhibits access to Medicare hospice benefits. Efforts have been made to create dementia-specific advance directives. Advance refusal of artificial nutrition and hydration are common, but the issue of oral ingestion of food and fluids by dementia patients remains controversial. Medicare's hospice benefit should be made more accessible to dementia patients. State advance directive threshold definitions should be broadened to include dementia, and capacitated persons who refuse in advance orally ingested food and fluids should have their choices honored.
BACKGROUND: In Switzerland as in many countries, steady trend is observed in nursing homes to promote writing of advanced directives (ADs). Implementation of ADs reflects the rise in public concern for the persons' right to self-determination and informed decision. The issue of end-of-life conditions is particularly acute in situations with dementia. This article investigates how ADs interventions in nursing homes strive simultaneously to behave in line with the principles of care ethics and with the intention to respond to legally binding instructions. Healthcare to dying residents with dementia in nursing homes is interpreted in light of the Regulation theory.
METHODS: Nursing home palliative care reference nurses were contacted through questionnaire. One hundred twenty-one addresses were reached, 69 responses were collected, giving a response rate of 57%. In order to deepen the understanding, 10 semi-directive interviews were conducted in 10 different nursing facilities with 12 palliative nurses.
RESULTS: Presently, Swiss nursing homes are lacking a model of AD suitable to people with dementia. The study sheds light on dissimilarities in the purpose assigned to ADs' procedure in the different facilities. Discrepancies in end-of-life care practices reveal more the influence of structural and organisational devices specific to each setting than conflicting views on end-of-life care principles. We analyse the interpretation of the Law and its implementation in the participating NHs as compromises that could be accounted for as a form of social regulation.
CONCLUSION: Dementia accentuates the uncertainty inherent to end-of-life trajectories. The implementation of standardised procedures aimed at collecting the wishes of the person deprived of his or her discernment is source of dissonances with regard to the multiple interests involved in these care situations. In this context, the drafting of ADs during end-of-life care in NH correspond to new normative constraints requiring new collective regulation actions.
OBJECTIVES: Our aim was to (1) describe the clinical characteristics and symptoms of people diagnosed with dementia at the time of admission to inpatient palliative care; and (2) compare the nature and severity of these palliative care–related problems to patients with other chronic diseases.
DESIGN: Descriptive study using assessment data on point of care outcomes (January 1, 2013, to December 31, 2018).
SETTING: A total of 129 inpatient palliative care services participating in the Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration.
PARTICIPANTS: A total of 29,971 patients with a primary diagnosis of dementia (n = 1,872), lung cancer (n = 19,499), cardiovascular disease (CVD, n = 5,079), stroke (n = 2,659), or motor neuron disease (MND, n = 862).
MEASUREMENTS: This study reported the data collected at the time of admission to inpatient palliative care services including patients' self-rated levels of distress from seven common physical symptoms, clinician-rated symptom severity, functional dependency, and performance status. Other data analyzed included number of admissions, length of inpatient stay, and palliative care phases.
RESULTS: At the time of admission to inpatient palliative care services, relative to patients with lung cancer, CVD, and MND, people with dementia presented with lower levels of distress from most symptoms (odds ratios [ORs] range from .15 to .80; P < .05 for all) but higher levels of functional impairment (ORs range from 3.02 to 8.62; P < .001 for all), and they needed more assistance with basic activities of daily living (ORs range from 3.83 to 12.24; P < .001 for all). The trends were mostly the opposite direction when compared with stroke patients. Patients with dementia tended to receive inpatient palliative care later than those with lung cancer and MND.
CONCLUSION: The unique pattern of palliative care problems experienced by people with dementia, as well as the skills of the relevant health services, need to be considered when deciding on the best location of care for each individual. Access to appropriately trained palliative care clinicians is important for people with high levels of physical or psychological concerns, irrespective of the care setting or diagnosis.
The Dutch Supreme Court this week ruled that a doctor may act on a previously written euthanasia request and end the life of a patient who, because of advanced dementia, can no longer express their wishes.
Doctors must, however, still adhere to criteria of care for euthanasia practice if they are to avoid prosecution. These, enshrined in the 2002 law, include that the patient is suffering “hopelessly and unbearably” and that the request is “voluntary and well considered,” meaning that the patient must be competent when the request was made.
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