Yoga was developed >5,000 years ago as a comprehensive system of health and well-being for the mind, body, and soul. The word is believed to derive from the Sanskrit root "yuj" meaning to bind, yoke, union, and/or to concentrate one's attention. In health care, it often serves as a complementary mind-body practice, and it is increasingly being integrated into cancer care. It can be performed in the privacy of one's home through DVD or web-based programs or through group practices led by instructors who are often experienced working with students with medical issues. Most published evidence regarding yoga for seriously ill patients involves breast cancer survivors or breast cancer (stages I-IV) patients undergoing cancer treatment with a preserved functional capacity (ECOG <3). There is limited data examining its effectiveness or feasibility in children or for those with terminal cancer.
Both non-rapid eye movements and rapid eye movements sleep facilitate the strengthening of newly encoded memory traces, and dream content reflects this process. Numerous studies evaluated the impact of diseases on dream content, with particular reference to cancer, and reported the presence of issues related to death, negative emotions, pain and illness. This study investigates death and illness experiences in 13 consecutive patients with sarcoma compared to paired controls, early after diagnosis, evaluating dream contents, fear of death, mood and anxiety, distress, and severity of disease perception (perceived and communicated). Ten patients and 10 controls completed the study. Dream contents were significantly different between patients and normative data (DreamSat) and patients and controls (higher presence of negative emotions, low familiar settings and characters and no success involving the dreamer). Illness and death were present in 57% of patients' dreams (0% among controls), but no differences emerged between patients and controls in regard to anxiety and depression, distress and fear of death, even if the severity of illness was correctly perceived. The appearance of emotional elements in dreams and the absence of conscious verbalization of distress and/or depressive or anxious symptoms by patients could be ascribed to the time required for mnestic elaboration (construction/elaboration phase) during sleep.
This study aims to analyse the impact that a psychological intervention programme has on the emotional state of family caregivers of patients at the end of life. The study is longitudinal with two arms (control and experimental). Data was collected from 154 primary family caregivers of patients at the end of life as well as from their respective 154 care-recipients. The intervention programme has shown its effectiveness in reducing anxiety, emotional distress and burden in the family caregivers of end-of-life patients. A reduction of anxiety of patients whose family caregivers participated in the intervention was also observed.
BACKGROUND: Patients receiving left ventricular assisted device (LVAD) require the expertise of specialty trained nurses referred to as VAD coordinators. The long-term use of these devices has created morally distressing situations for VAD coordinators.
OBJECTIVE: This pilot study sought to explore the association between ventricular assistance device (VAD) coordinators' unique roles and responsibilities and moral distress.
METHODS: An online survey was distributed to VAD coordinators through a listserv. The non-probability sample consisted of 36 nurses across the United States.
RESULTS: Bivariate analyses identified a number of areas of difference in respondent's levels of moral distress based on specific responsibilities associated with their role as a VAD coordinator.
CONCLUSION: These findings indicate team communication, competence, and location of VAD discontinuation may be important factors related to VAD coordinators' distress. Future research is needed with larger sample sizes and continued exploration of the impact of specialized training and curricula content.
CONTEXT: Advancing the science of serious illness communication requires methods for measuring characteristics of conversations in large studies. Understanding which characteristics predict clinically important outcomes can help prioritize attention to scalable measure development.
PURPOSE: To understand whether audibly recognizable expressions of distressing emotion during palliative care serious illness conversations are associated with ratings of patient experience or 6-month enrollment in hospice.
METHODS: We audio-recorded initial palliative care consultations involving 231 hospitalized people with advanced cancer at two large academic medical centers. We coded conversations for expressions of fear, anger and sadness. We examined the distribution of these expressions and their association with pre-post ratings of Feeling Heard & Understood and 6-month hospice enrollment following the consultation.
RESULTS: Nearly 6 in 10 conversations included at least one audible expression of distressing emotion (59%; 137/231). Among conversations with such an expression, fear was the most prevalent (72%; 98/ 137) followed by sadness (50%; 69/ 137) and anger (45%; 62/137). Anger expression was associated with more disease-focused end-of-life treatment preferences, pre-post consultation improvement in feeling heard & understood and lower 6-month hospice enrollment. Fear was strongly associated with pre-consultation patient ratings of shorter survival expectations. Sadness did not exhibit strong association with patient descriptors or outcomes.
CONCLUSION: Fear, anger and sadness are commonly expressed in hospital-based palliative care consultations with people who have advanced cancer. Anger is an epidemiologically useful predictor of important clinical outcomes.
CONTEXT: Palliative care referrals (PCR) improve symptom management, provide psychosocial and spiritual support, clarify goals of care and facilitate discharge planning. However, very late PCR can result in increased clinician distress and prevent patients and families from benefitting from the full spectrum of interdisciplinary care.
METHODS: Consecutive first-time inpatient PCR from September 1, 2013 to August 31, 2017 were identified to determine the frequency and predictors of referrals within 24 hours of death. We compared the clinical characteristics with a random sample of patients discharged alive or died more than 24 hours after first-time PCR as a control, stratified by year of consult in a 1:1 ratio.
RESULTS: Of 7,322 first-time PCR, 154 (2%) died within 24 hours of referral. These patients were older (p=0.003) and had higher scores for depression (p=0.0009), drowsiness (p=0.02) and shortness of breath (p=0.008) compared to a random sample of 153 patients discharged alive or died more than 24 hours after first-time PCR. Patients who received a PCR within 24 hours of death were more likely than the control group to have ECOG 4 (95% vs. 25%, p<0.0001), delirium (89% vs. 17%, p<0.0001), DNR code status (81% vs. 18%, p<0.0001), and hematologic malignancies (39% vs. 16%, p<0.0001). In the multivariate analysis, depression (OR 1.4, p=0.005), DNR code status (OR 9.1, p=0.003) and ECOG 4 (OR 9.8, p=0.003) were independently associated with first-time PCR within 24 hours of death.
CONCLUSION: While only a small proportion of first-time PCR occurred in the last 24 hours of life, the patients had a significant amount of distress, indicating a missed opportunity for timely palliative care intervention. These sentinel events call for specific guidelines to better support patients, families and clinicians during this difficult time. Further research is needed to understand how to minimize very late PCR.
Critical care nurses frequently provide end-of-life and bereavement care. This type of care is rewarding, but can put nurses at risk for moral distress, compassion fatigue, and burnout. By incorporating self-care into their routine, critical care nurses minimize this risk and maintain their own health and well-being. This article provides suggestions for promoting physical, emotional, and spiritual self-care for nurses caring for dying intensive care unit patients and their families. A case scenario illustrates the importance of this concept. Practical examples of self-care are highlighted along with discussion on how leadership can support self-care and maintain a healthy work environment.
BACKGROUND: Moral distress, the phenomenon in which an agent is constrained in acting on their ethical choice, is a reoccurring theme in the literature on nurses' experiences of end-of-life care (EOLC). Understanding moral engagement solely through a lens of moral distress can be limiting-as such, we sought to explore the diverse experiences nurses consider ethically meaningful in their palliative and EOLC practice.
PURPOSE AND METHODS: This article presents an exploration and analysis of stories told to us, within an interpretive description study, by five nurses practicing in EOLC in diverse settings across Canada. Although these stories were told to us in a research context, the purpose of this theory article is to explore what these stories demonstrate about the moral engagement of nurses caring for dying patients.
FINDINGS: Our analysis suggests that while moral distress is a feature of nursing stories, so too are many other dimensions of moral experience, including resilience, responsibility, and care.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Expanding how we understand nurses' moral engagement in the care of dying patients has implications for how we account for the many responsibilities that nurses shoulder in striving to provide "good" care to people at the end of life.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents unique challenges to those who work with the seriously ill population, including both health care providers and the family caregivers providing unpaid care. We rely on this lay workforce as health care routinely transitions care to the home, and now more than ever, we are depending on them in the current pandemic. As palliative care and other health care providers become overwhelmed with patients critically ill with COVID-19, and routine care becomes delayed, we have a charge to recognize and work with family caregivers. Our commentary provides rationale for the need to focus on family caregivers and key considerations for how to include them in pandemic clinical decision making.
BACKGROUND: Studies have shown gaps in prognostic understanding among patients with cancer. However, few studies have explored patients' perceptions of their treatment goals versus how they perceive their oncologist's goals, and the association of these views with their psychological distress.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 559 patients with incurable lung, gastrointestinal, breast, and brain cancers. The Prognosis and Treatment Perception Questionnaire was used to assess patients' reports of their treatment goal and their oncologist's treatment goal, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to assess patients' psychological symptoms.
RESULTS: We found that 61.7% of patients reported that both their treatment goal and their oncologist's treatment goal were noncurative, whereas 19.3% reported that both their goal and their oncologist's goal were to cure their cancer, 13.9% reported that their goal was to cure their cancer whereas their oncologist's goal was noncurative, and 5% reported that their goal was noncurative whereas their oncologist's goal was curative. Patients who reported both their goal and their oncologist's goal as noncurative had higher levels of depression (B=0.99; P=.021) and anxiety symptoms (B=1.01; P=.015) compared with those who reported that both their goal and their oncologist's goal was curative. Patients with discordant perceptions of their goal and their oncologist's goal reported higher anxiety symptoms (B=1.47; P=.004) compared with those who reported that both their goal and their oncologist's goal were curative.
CONCLUSIONS: One-fifth of patients with incurable cancer reported that both their treatment goal and their oncologist's goal were to cure their cancer. Patients who acknowledged the noncurative intent of their treatment and those who perceived that their treatment goal was discordant from that of their oncologist reported greater psychological distress.
PURPOSE: Investigate whether Life Review Therapy and Memory Specificity Training (LRT-MST) targeting incurably ill cancer patients may also have a beneficial effect on caregiving burden, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and posttraumatic growth of the informal caregivers.
METHODS: Data was collected in the context of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) (secondary analyses) on the effect of LRT-MST among incurably cancer patients. Informal caregivers of participating patients were asked to complete outcome measures at baseline (T0), post-intervention (T1), and 1-month follow-up (T2): caregiver burden (caregivers reaction assessment scale (CRA)), symptoms of anxiety and depression (hospital anxiety and depression scale), and posttraumatic growth (posttraumatic growth inventory). Linear mixed models (intention to treat) were used to assess group differences in changes over time. Effect size and independent samples t tests were used to assess group differences at T1 and T2.
RESULTS: In total, 64 caregivers participated. At baseline, 56% of the caregivers experienced anxiety and 30% depression. No significant effect was found on these symptoms nor on posttraumatic growth or most aspects of caregiver burden. There was a significant effect of LRT-MST on the course of self-esteem (subscale CRA) (p = 0.013). Effect size was moderate post-intervention (ES = - 0.38, p = 0.23) and at 3-month follow-up (ES = 0.53, p = 0.083).
CONCLUSIONS: Many caregivers of incurably ill cancer patients experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. LRT-MST does not improve symptoms of depression and anxiety, negative aspects of caregiver burden, or posttraumatic growth. LRT-MST may have a protective effect on self-esteem of informal caregivers (positive aspect of caregiver burden).
Siblings of children with serious illness often experience psychosocial distress during and after there sibling's illness. Their psychosocial well-being may not receive adequat focus due to their sibling's illness. This Fast Fact discusses sibling emotions and identify effective ways clinicians can support them. See Fast Fact #47 and #138 for information about the developmental stages for how children conceptualize death and illness.
Objectives: Euthanasia and assisted suicide (EAS) of individuals with mental disorders is a growing practice in several countries, including the Netherlands. Here, we aimed to identify the most frequent dimensions of and associated factors to psychological pain, which has been associated with suicidality, in individuals undergoing psychiatric EAS.
Methods: An exploratory retrospective content analysis of the English translation of 66 digital case records of individuals who died by EAS in the Netherlands between 2011 and 2014 was performed. Nine standard psychological pain dimensions (irreversibility, loss of control, emptiness, emotional flooding, freezing, social distancing, narcissistic wounds, confusion, and self-estrangement), illness, and sociodemographic variables were evaluated by 2 independent raters using a premade data abstraction form (Kohen > 0.8 in all cases).
Results: The mean number of dimensions was 4.64 ± 1.20 (median = 5), out of 9. The most frequent dimensions were irreversibility, loss of control, emptiness, and emotional flooding, in decreasing order. Past treatment refusal and the mention of social connections in case descriptions were related to the higher number of psychological pain dimensions (4.89 ± 1.24 vs. 4.31 ± 1.07, P = 0.03 and 5.05 ± 1.17 vs. 4.43 ± 1.17, P = 0.03, respectively). Emotional flooding was the only dimension specifically associated with specific psychiatric conditions, namely posttraumatic phenomena and personality disorders.
Conclusions: Numerous psychological pain dimensions were detected in case descriptions of individuals who underwent EAS before the procedure. Subjective nature of the study precludes definite conclusions but suggest that future studies should explore psychological pain and the role of interventions targeting it in patients requesting EAS.
Objectives: Little is known about the experience of family caregivers of patients who require prolonged mechanical ventilation (PMV). We examined the perspectives of caregivers of patients who died after PMV to explore the role of palliative care and the quality of dying and death (QODD) in patients and understand the psychological symptoms of these caregivers.
Methods: A longitudinal study was performed in five hospitals in Taipei, Taiwan. Routine palliative care family conferences and optional consultation with a palliative care specialist were provided, and family caregivers were asked to complete surveys.
Results: In total, 136 family caregivers of 136 patients receiving PMV were recruited and underwent face-to-face baseline interviews in 2016–2017. By 2018, 61 (45%) of 136 patients had died. We successfully interviewed 30 caregivers of patients’ death to collect information on the QODD of patients and administer the Impact of Event Scale (IES), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale to caregivers. We observed that more frequent palliative care family conferences were associated with poorer QODD in patients (coefficients: -44.04% and 95% CIs -75.65 to -12.44), and more psychological symptoms among caregivers (coefficient: 9.77% and 95% CI 1.63 to 17.90 on CES-D and coefficient: 7.67% and 95% CI 0.78 to 14.55 on HADS). A higher caregiver burden at baseline correlated with lower psychological symptoms (coefficient: -0.35% and 95% CI -0.58 to -0.11 on IES and coefficient: -0.22% and 95% CI -0.40 to -0.05 on CES-D) among caregivers following the patients’ death. Caregivers’ who accepted the concept of palliative care had fewer psychological symptoms after patients’ death (coefficient: -3.29% and 95% CI -6.32 to -0.25 on IES and coefficient: -3.22% and 95% CI -5.24 to -1.20 on CES-D).
Conclusions: Palliative care conferences were more common among family members with increased distress. Higher caregiver burden and caregiver acceptance of palliative care at baseline both predicted lower levels of caregiver distress after death.
All medical care providers are legally and ethically bound to respect their patients' wishes. However, as patients lose decision-making capacity and approach end of life, their families or surrogates, who are confronted with grief, fear, self-doubt, and/or uncertainty, may ask physicians to provide treatment that contradicts the patients' previously stated wishes. Our work discusses the legal and ethical issues surrounding such requests and provides guidance for clinicians to ethically and compassionately respond—without compromising their professional and moral obligations to their patients.
Background: patients with palliative needs often experience high symptom burden which causes suffering to themselves and their families. Depression and psychological distress should not be considered a “normal event” in advanced disease patients and should be screened, diagnosed, acted on and followed-up. Psychological distress has been associated with greater physical symptom severity, suffering, and mortality in cancer patients. A holistic, but short measure should be used for physical and non-physical needs assessment. The Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale is one such measure. This work aims to determine palliative needs of patients and explore screening accuracy of two items pertaining to psychological needs.
Methods: multi-centred observational study using convenience sampling. Data were collected in 9 Portuguese centres. Inclusion criteria: =18 years, mentally fit to give consent, diagnosed with an incurable, potentially life-threatening illness. Exclusion criteria: patient in distress (“unable to converse for a period of time”), cognitively impaired. Descriptive statistics used for demographics. Receiving Operator Characteristics curves and Area Under the Curve for anxiety and depression discriminant properties against the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.
Results: 1703 individuals were screened between July 1st, 2015 and February 2016. A total of 135 (7.9%) were included. Main reason for exclusion was being healthy (75.2%). The primary care centre screened most individuals, as they have the highest rates of daily patients and the majority are healthy. Mean age is 66.8 years (SD 12.7), 58 (43%) are female. Most patients had a cancer diagnosis 109 (80.7%). Items scoring highest (=4) were: family or friends anxious or worried (36.3%); feeling anxious or worried about illness (13.3%); feeling depressed (9.6%). Using a cut-off score of 2/3, Area Under the Curve for depression and anxiety items were above 70%.
Conclusions: main palliative needs were psychological, family related and spiritual. This suggests that clinical teams may better manage physical issues and there is room for improvement regarding non-physical needs. Using the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale systematically could aid clinical teams screening patients for distressing needs and track their progress in assisting patients and families with those issues.
BACKGROUND: There is evidence that psychosocial and spiritual interventions of short duration, such as reminiscence therapy, provide positive impacts on quality of life and emotional and existential well-being in adults receiving palliative care.
AIM: To determine (1) the feasibility of integrating 'LIFEView', a video-based software with >1600 videos of world destinations, in palliative care settings, and (2) positive, neutral or harmful effects of using 'LIFEView' videos.
DESIGN: A mixed-methods pre-post intervention pilot study was conducted to collect feasibility and preliminary data on physical and psychological symptoms, physiological indicators, spiritual well-being and aspects of quality of life.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult patients on an inpatient palliative care unit or receiving care from a community palliative care consultation team who were capable of providing consent and completing the outcome measures were eligible participants.
RESULTS: Overall, 27/41 (66%) participants took part in the study. Feasibility criteria, including participant acceptability, low participant burden, tool completion rate and retention rate, were fulfilled, though challenges were experienced with recruitment. Modest improvements, though non-significant, were shown on preliminary data collected on physical and psychological symptoms using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System-revised, spiritual well-being assessed by the 12-item Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy - Spiritual Well-Being scale and physiological measurements. Qualitative analysis revealed five themes: motivations for using 'LIFEView', perceptions of the technology, reminiscence, 'LIFEView' as an adaptable technology and ongoing or future use.
CONCLUSION: A future adequately powered study to investigate the impacts of 'LIFEView' on patient well-being and quality of life appears to be feasible.
Symptom relief is fundamental to palliative care. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Indigenous) Australians are known to experience inequities in health care delivery and outcomes, but large-scale studies of end-of-life symptoms in this population are lacking. We compared symptom-related distress among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian patients in specialist palliative care using the multi-jurisdictional Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration dataset. Based on patient-reported rating scale responses, adjusted relative risks (aRRs) stratified by care setting were calculated for occurrence of (i) symptom-related moderate-to-severe distress and worsening distress during a first episode of care and (ii) symptom-related moderate-to-severe distress at the final pre-death assessment. The p-value significance threshold was corrected for multiple comparisons. First-episode frequencies of symptom-related distress were similar among Indigenous (n = 1180) and non-Indigenous (n = 107,952) patients in both inpatient and community settings. In final pre-death assessments (681 Indigenous and 67,339 non-Indigenous patients), both groups had similar occurrence of moderate-to-severe distress when care was provided in hospital. In community settings, Indigenous compared with non-Indigenous patients had lower pre-death risks of moderate-to-severe distress from overall symptom occurrence (aRR 0.78; p = 0.001; confidence interval [CI] 0.67-0.91). These findings provide reassurance of reasonable equivalence of end-of-life outcomes for Indigenous patients who have been accepted for specialist palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Psychological distress is highly prevalent among patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.
AIMS: To perform an economic evaluation of a combined screening and treatment program targeting psychological distress in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer in comparison with usual care.
DESIGN: Societal costs were collected alongside a cluster randomized controlled trial for 48 weeks. A total of 349 participants were included.
SETTING: Participants were recruited from oncology departments at 16 participating hospitals in the Netherlands.
METHODS: Outcome measures were the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and quality-adjusted life-years. Missing data were imputed using multiple imputation. Uncertainty was estimated using bootstrapping. Cost-effectiveness planes and cost-effectiveness acceptability curves were estimated to show uncertainty surrounding the cost-effectiveness estimates. Sensitivity analyses were performed to check robustness of results.
RESULTS: Between treatment arms, no significant differences were found in Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score (mean difference: -0.058; 95% confidence interval: -0.13 to 0.011), quality-adjusted life-years (mean difference: 0.042; 95% confidence interval: -0.015 to 0.099), and societal costs (mean difference: -1152; 95% confidence interval: -5058 to 2214). Cost-effectiveness acceptability curves showed that the probability of cost-effectiveness was 0.64 and 0.74 at willingness-to-pay values of €0 and €10,000 per point improvement on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, respectively. The probability that the intervention was cost-effective compared to usual care for quality-adjusted life-years was 0.64 and 0.79 at willingness-to-pay values of €0 and €20,000 per quality-adjusted life-year, respectively.
CONCLUSION: The intervention is dominant over usual care, primarily due to lower costs in the intervention group. However, there were no statistically significant differences in clinical effects and the uptake of the intervention was quite low. Therefore, widespread implementation cannot be recommended.
The varied physical, social, and psychological stressors that accompany advanced disease can be burdensome and cause intense emotional suffering, hindering the ability of patients and families to cope in day-to-day life and negatively affecting quality of life. This article addresses key concepts for the assessment and management of commonly encountered types of psychological distress in serious illness including grief, prolonged grief, major depressive disorder, death contemplation, and suicidal ideation.