OBJECTIVE: To measure the effectiveness of a brief intervention aimed at increasing interest in and use of advanced directives (AD) among primary care patients.
METHODS: Randomized controlled trial. In the intervention arm, patients were given brief oral information and a leaflet on AD by General Practitioners (GPs), in the control group were briefly informed about the study's purpose. Outcome variables were the proportion of patients who expressed interest in AD and those who completed one. Covariates were sex, age, education, race, Charlson comorbidity index (CCI), religion, and possession of financial will.
RESULTS: Overall, 332 patients were recruited; 58 in the intervention and 36 in the control group expressed interest in AD (p = 0.033) and 18 (5.4 %) made an AD (nine in each group). Variables associated with interest were Caucasian race (odds ratio [OR], 1.88), the intervention (OR, 1.86), and CCI extreme scores (OR, 0.36). Variables associated with AD completion were primary education/no schooling (OR, 5.69) and fewer children (OR, 0.57).
CONCLUSIONS: A brief oral and written intervention delivered by GP significantly increased interest in AD and achieved a completion rate of 5.4 %, without differences with the control group.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: AD interventions should focus on individuals already likely to be motivated.
Euthanasia is undoubtedly the protagonist of many of the debates around the end of life both among health staff and in the general population. Considering that nurses provide care for terminally ill patients and support families and patients in their final days, it is essential to know their attitudes towards euthanasia. The aims of the study were to adapt and validate the Attitude Towards Euthanasia scale to a Spanish context, to test the dimensionality and to estimate the reliability of the scale. A cross-sectional study was conducted with a non-probabilistic sample of Spanish health-workers of 201 in a University Hospital in Ciudad Real. A self-reported socio-demographic questionnaire and the Euthanasia Attitude Scale were used for data collection. The psychometric properties of the scale were assessed, including reliability and validity using an exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. Cronbach’s alpha of the Attitude Towards Euthanasia scale was a = 0.827 and McDonald’s Omega = 0.903. The range of items of homogeneity was from 0.205 to 0.685. For the different exploratory factor analyses carried out, the Bartlett’s test of sphericity was p < 0.001 and the sample index value of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin was over 0.802. in all cases. We present the factorial weights for three models: The first one assumes a unidimensional solution, the second model was composed by three factors and the third model was composed by four factors. In the confirmatory factor analysis, the three models presented an acceptable fit index. The Attitude Towards Euthanasia scale adaptation to a sample of Spanish health workers has shown, with some limitations, appropriate psychometric properties. There have been several differences between the original factorial solution. It would be necessary to replicate the study to reinforce the findings about the number of factors of the scale.
OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in end-of-life communication with people with cancer in general practice.
METHODS: Mortality follow-back survey among general practitioners (GPs) in representative epidemiological surveillance networks in Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Spain (ES) in 2009-2010 (ES: 2010-2011) and 2013-2014. Using a standardised form, GPs registered all deceased adult patients in their practice and reported for five end-of-life care topics whether they had been discussed with the patient. Non-sudden cancer deaths were included (n=2306; BE: 1233; NL: 729; ES: 344).
RESULTS: A statistically significant increase was found between 2009/2010 and 2014 in the prevalence of communication about diagnosis (from 84% to 94%) and options for end-of-life care (from 73% to 90%) in BE, and in GPs' awareness of patients' preferences for medical treatment and a proxy decision-maker in BE (from 41% and 20% up to 53% and 28%) and the NL (from 62% and 32% up to 70% and 52%). Communication about options for end-of-life care and psychosocial problems decreased in the NL (from 88% and 91% down to 73%) and ES (from 76% and 77% down to 26% and 39%).
CONCLUSION: Considerable change in GP-patient communication seems possible in a relatively short time span, but communication cannot be assumed to increase over time. Increasing specialisation of care and task differentiation may lead to new roles in communication for healthcare providers in primary and secondary care. Improved information sharing between GPs and other healthcare providers may be necessary to ensure that patients have the chance to discuss important end-of-life topics.
OBJECTIVES: To describe how children currently die in Spanish PICUs, their epidemiologic characteristics and clinical diagnoses.
DESIGN: Prospective multicenter observational study.
SETTING: Eighteen PICUs participating in the MOdos de Morir en UCI Pediátrica-2 (MOMUCI-2) study in Spain.
PATIENTS: Children 1 to 16 years old who died in PICU during 2017 and 2018.
MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: During the 2-year study period, 250 deaths were recorded. Seventy-three children (29.3%) were younger than 1 year, 131 (52.6%) were between 1 and 12 years old, and 45 (18.1%) were older than 12. One-hundred eighty patients (72%) suffered from an underlying chronic disease, 54 (21.6%) had been admitted to PICU in the past 6 months, and 71 (28.4%) were severely disabled upon admission. Deaths occurred more frequently on the afternoon-night shift (62%) after a median PICU length of stay of 3 days (1-12 d). Nearly half of the patients died (48.8%) after life-sustaining treatment limitation, 71 died (28.4%) despite receiving life-sustaining therapies and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and 57 (22.8%) were declared brain dead. The most frequent type of life-sustaining treatment limitation was the withdrawal of mechanical ventilation (20.8%), followed by noninitiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (18%) and withdrawal of vasoactive drugs (13.7%). Life-sustaining treatment limitation was significantly more frequent in patients with an underlying neurologic-neuromuscular disease, respiratory disease as the cause of admission, a previous admission to PICU in the past 6 months, and severe disability. Multivariate analyses indicated that life-sustaining treatment limitation, chronicity, and poor Pediatric Cerebral Performance Category score were closely related.
CONCLUSIONS: Currently, nearly half of the deaths in Spanish PICUs occur after the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatments. These children are more likely to have had previous admissions to the PICU, be severely disabled or to suffer from chronic diseases. Healthcare professionals who treat critically ill children ought to be aware of this situation and should therefore be prepared and trained to provide the best end-of-life care possible.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care knowledge is essential in primary healthcare due to the increasing number of patients who require attention in the final stage of their life. Health professionals (physicians and nurses) need to acquire specific knowledge and abilities to provide high-quality palliative care. The development of education programmes in palliative care is necessary. The Palliative Care Knowledge Test (PCKT) is a questionnaire that evaluates the basic knowledge about palliative care, but it has not been adapted into Spanish, and its effectiveness and utility for Spanish culture have not been analysed.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to report the translation into Spanish and a psychometric analysis of the PCKT.
METHODS: The questionnaire survey was validated with a group of 561 physicians and nurses. The PCKT Spanish Version (PCKT-SV) was obtained from a process, including translation, back translation and revision by experts and a pilot study. The content validity and reliability of the questionnaire were analysed.
RESULTS: The results showed internal consistency and reliability indexes similar to those obtained by the original version of PCKT.
CONCLUSION: The PCKT-SV is a useful instrument for measuring Spanish-speaking physician and nurse knowledge of palliative care, and it is suitable to evaluate the effectiveness of training activities in palliative care.
In view of the exceptional public health situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a consensus work has been promoted from the ethics group of the Spanish Society of Intensive, Critical Medicine and Coronary Units (SEMICYUC), with the objective of finding some answers from ethics to the crossroads between the increase of people with intensive care needs and the effective availability of means. In a very short period, the medical practice framework has been changed to a 'catastrophe medicine' scenario, with the consequent change in the decision-making parameters. In this context, the allocation of resources or the prioritization of treatment become crucial elements, and it is important to have an ethical reference framework to be able to make the necessary clinical decisions. For this, a process of narrative review of the evidence has been carried out, followed by a unsystematic consensus of experts, which has resulted in both the publication of a position paper and recommendations from SEMICYUC itself, and the consensus between 18 scientific societies and 5 institutes/chairs of bioethics and palliative care of a framework document of reference for general ethical recommendations in this context of crisis.
Spain has been one of the most affected countries by the COVID-19 outbreak. As of 28 April 2020, the number of confirmed cases is 210,773, including 102,548 patients recovered, more than 10,300 admitted to the ICU, and 23,822 deaths, with a global case fatality rate of 11.3%. From the perspective of donation and transplantation, the Spanish system first focused on safety issues, providing recommendations for donor evaluation and testing, and to rule out SARS-CoV-2 infection in potential recipients prior to transplantation. Since the country entered into an epidemiological scenario of sustained community transmission and saturation of intensive care, developing donation and transplantation procedures has become highly complex. Since the national state of alarm was declared in Spain on 13 March 2020, the mean number of donors has declined from 7.2 to 1.2 per day, and the mean number of transplants from 16.1 to 2.1 per day. Increased mortality on the waiting list may become a collateral damage of this terrible pandemic.
Objective: to explore self-perception competence among Spanish nurses dealing with patient death and its relationship with work environment, evidence-based practice, and occupational stress.
Method: a cross-sectional web-based survey collected information from a convenience sample of 534 nurses from professional Spanish Colleges who answered four validated questionnaires: Coping with Death Scale, Practice Environment Scale of the Nursing Work Index, Perception of Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) and Nursing Stress Scale.
Results: a total of 79% of the participants were women, the average age was 40 years old, 38% had a postgraduate degree and 77% worked in public health settings. Many nurses evaluated their work environment as unfavorable (66%), reported high occupational stress (83.5±14.9), and had high scores on knowledge/skills in EBP (47.9±11.3). However, 61.2% of them perceived an optimal coping (>157 score). The multivariate logistic model indicated positive associations with work environment and EBP characteristics (OR: 1.30, p=0.054; OR: 1.04, p=0.007; OR: 1.13, p<0.001, respectively) but negative associations with occupational stress and short work experience (OR: 0.98, p=0.0043; OR: 0.74, p<0.002, respectively). These factors explained 23.1% of the coping variance (p<0.001).
Conclusion: although most nurses perceived optimal coping, the situation could be enhanced by modifying several contextual factors. The identification of these factors would improve the quality of end-of-life care by facilitating nursing management.
BACKGROUND: Providing care for dying people and the death of patients are stressing situations faced by nursing students during their clinical practice. Learning about palliative care improves the management of emotions and the ability to cope when caring for patients in end-of-life processes. However, there is little knowledge on the effect of this learning on the students' perceptions of their own death.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of a palliative care course on the thoughts of nursing students about their own death.
DESIGN: A qualitative, descriptive, and comparative study was conducted based on content analysis, administering an open-ended questionnaire on dying and death at the start and end of a palliative care course.
PARTICIPANTS: The study included 85 volunteers studying Palliative Care in the second year of their Nursing Degree at the University of Granada (Spain).
RESULTS: Students described their perceptions in more detail after the course, with more numerous code citations, and their post-course responses evidenced a reduction in anxiety about their own death and an increased recognition of the need to respect the decisions of patients for a dignified death.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care learning modifies the perception by nursing students of their own death and their understanding of a dignified death, which may enhance the care they deliver to patients at the end of life.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the clinical management of palliative sedation and the characteristics of sedated patients in 11 Catalan hospital emergency departments.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Prospective descriptive study of a cohort of patients given palliative sedation between April and July 2018. We registered patient demographic and disease data, the Charlson comorbidity index (CCI), patient's point of origin before emergency department arrival, times related to emergency care, and medications used.
RESULTS: We included 323 patients (48.9% men) with a mean (SD) age of 84 (12) years. The CCIs were significantly higher in patients attended in level-I hospitals. Palliative sedation was the first option in 27% and was initiated within 18 (28) hours of arrival on average, an interval that was significantly shorter in level-II hospitals. Most patients (74.2%) died in the emergency department.
CONCLUSION: Patients treated with palliative sedation in hospital emergency departments are older and have serious concomitant conditions. Most patients are first treated with intention to cure. Time until the start of palliative sedation differs significantly according to hospital level.
The aim of this study was to compare the symptomatology, palliative care outcomes, therapeutic procedures, diagnostic tests, and pharmacological treatments for people with dementia (PWD) and without dementia (PW/OD) admitted to Spanish nursing homes.
DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study which is part of a long-term prospective follow-up of elderly people performed in nursing homes to measure end-of-life care processes.
PARTICIPANTS: 107 nursing home patients with advanced or terminal chronic diseases were selected according to the criteria of the Palliative Care Spanish Society.
SETTING: Two trained nurses from each nursing home were responsible for participant selection and data collection. They must have treated the residents and had a minimum seniority of 6 months in the nursing home.
MEASUREMENTS: Sociodemographic data; Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale; Palliative Care Outcome Scale; and prevalence of diagnostic tests, pharmacological treatments, and therapeutic procedures were evaluated.
RESULTS: Pain, fatigue, and nausea were found to be significantly higher in the nondementia group and insomnia, poor appetite, and drowsiness were significantly higher in the dementia group. Patient anxiety, support, feeling that life was worth living, self-worth, and practical matters management were higher in the nondementia group. Regarding drugs, use of corticoids was higher in the nondementia group, while use of anxiolytics was higher in the dementia group. Diagnostic procedures such as urine analysis and X-ray were higher in the dementia group.
CONCLUSIONS: Differences in symptom perception, diagnostic tests, and pharmacological procedures were found between patients with and without dementia. Specific diagnostic tools need to be developed for patients with dementia.
INTRODUCTION: Advance healthcare directives (AHDs) in mental health offer important information regarding service users' preferences. However, whether AHDs are truly understood by providers is questionable.
AIM: To survey the knowledge and attitudes of mental health professionals towards AHDs and examine any associations with socio-demographic and occupational variables.
METHOD: We cross-sectionally surveyed the knowledge and attitudes of 113 mental health professionals by using two validated questionnaires.
RESULTS: Participants showed very positive attitudes and high levels of knowledge about the conceptual definition and application of AHDs in clinical practice but their knowledge of the legalities, procedure and registration of AHDs was poor. Working in a community, having a career specializing in mental health, or having personally signed an AHD was associated with enhanced knowledge about them. Moreover, female sex or employment as an auxiliary nursing-care technician was associated with stronger positive attitudes.
DISCUSSION: Legal and structural changes will be needed to implement AHDs in Spain and to promote competence among healthcare providers in order to include AHDs in everyday practice.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: The Spanish mental healthcare system requires legal and structural changes and must improve healthcare providers' competence in AHDs before they are implemented.
In Spain, health competencies are decentralized, and each autonomous community implements its own plans. Our aim is to determine if the existence of regional palliative care plans implies an improvement in health care coverage. We reviewed regional palliative care plans published in Spain and analyzed the following variables: number and profile of palliative care resources, guidelines and objectives of implementation of resources of these plans, and compliance with European standards. The publication of regional plans is associated with an increase in specific resources in the following years. From 2004 to 2009, the implementation of plans in 6 autonomous communities was associated with an increase in palliative care resources compared to those without a strategy (odds ratio: 1.58, P = .02) or with a settled plan (odds ratio: 1.40, P = .07). The same phenomenon was observed between 2009 and 2015 in 4 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities compared with those without a strategy (odds ratio: 2.49, P = .001) and those that implemented a plan before 2009 (odds ratio: 2.62, P < .001). Updating and evaluating these regional plans are also associated with the growth of palliative care resources.
CONTEXT: Palliative sedation is used to relieve end-of-life refractory symptoms.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to describe the use of palliative sedation in patients who die in internal medicine departments.
METHODS: An observational, cross-sectional, retrospective, and multicenter clinical audit study was conducted in 145 hospitals in Spain and Argentina. Each hospital included the first 10 patients who died in the internal medicine department, starting on December 1, 2015.
RESULTS: We included 1447 patients, and palliative sedation was administered to 701 patients (48.4%). Having a terminal illness (odds ratio [OR] 2.469, 95% CI 1.971-3.093, P < 0.001) and the length of hospital stay (OR 1.011, 95% CI 1.002-1.021, P = 0.017) were independently associated with the use of palliative sedation. Consent was granted by the families of 582 (83%) patients. The most common refractory symptom was dyspnea, and the most commonly used drugs for sedation were midazolam (77%) and morphine (89.7%). An induction dose was administered in 25.7% of the patients. Rescue doses were scheduled for 70% of the patients, and hydration was maintained in 49.5%. Pain was more common in patients with cancer, whereas dyspnea was more common in those without cancer. Rescue doses were used more often for the patients with cancer (77.8% vs. 67.7%, P = 0.015). Monitoring the palliative sedation with a scale was more frequent in the patients with cancer (23.7% vs. 14.3%, P = 0.008).
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative sedation is used more often for terminal patients. There are differences in the administration of palliative sedation between patients with and without cancer.
OBJECTIVES: This study is aimed at analyzing the impact of the main factors contributing to short and long-term mortality in patients at final stages of heart failure (HF).
SETTING: Patients attended at any of the 279 primary health care centers belonging to the Institut Català de la Salut, in Catalonia (Spain).
PARTICIPANTS: Patients with Advanced HF.
DESIGN: Multicenter cohort study including 1148 HF patients followed for one-year after reaching New York Heart Association (NYHA) IV.
MAIN MEASUREMENTS: The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. Multivariate logistic regression models were performed to assess the outcomes at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months.
RESULTS: Mean age of patients was 82 (SD 9) years and women represented 61.7%. A total of 135 (11.8%) and 397 (34.6%) patients died three months and one year after inclusion, respectively. Male gender, age, and decreased body mass index were associated with higher mortality at three, six and twelve months. In addition, low systolic blood pressure levels, severe reduction in glomerular filtration, malignancy, and higher doses of loop diuretics were related to higher mortality from 6 to 12 months. The most important risk factor over the whole period was presenting a body mass index lower than 20kg/m2 (three months OR 3.06, 95% CI: 1.58-5.92; six months OR 4.42, 95% CI: 2.08-9.38; and 12 months OR 3.68, 95% CI: 1.76-7.69).
CONCLUSIONS: We may conclude that male, age, and decreased body mass index determined higher short-term mortality in NYHA IV. In addition, low systolic blood pressure, reduced glomerular filtration, malignancy, and higher doses of loop diuretics contribute to increasing the risk of mortality at medium and long-term. Such variables are easily measurable and can help to decide the best way to face the most advances stages of the disease.
Introduction: Patients may be admitted to hospital by paediatric palliative care units (PPCU) for different reasons, due to their different needs and clinical problems. The objective of this study is to present the data of patients admitted to the PPCU of the Autonomous Community of Madrid.
Methods: Descriptive retrospective study was conducted by reviewing the clinical records of the PPCU between January 2011 and December 2016.
Results: of 499 patients attended in this period, 166 (33%) were admitted to hospital at some point, generating a total of 314 episodes. Respiratory problems (34%) were the main cause of admission. Gastrostomy intervention (23 patients) was the commonest reason for a surgical admission. In this period, 46 patients died during hospitalisation. The highest frequencies of death, according to the admission cause, were respiratory problems (18 out 46) and end-of-life care (11 out 46). More than half (59%) of admissions lasted less than 7 days and 88% were 15 days or less.
Conclusions: The causes and characteristics of the hospital admissions at a PPCU are heterogeneous, with respiratory problems being the most common cause of admission. The duration of the hospitalisation appears to be similar to that described for acute palliative care units. The creation of a specific PPCU that can refer their patients for hospital admission might help to improve continuity of care.
Health information and communication are key elements that allow patients and family members to make decisions about end-of-life care and guarantee a death with dignity.
Objective: To understand caregivers' experiences regarding health information and communication during the illness and death of family members.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted in Andalusia based on the paradigm of hermeneutic phenomenology. Participants were caregivers who had accompanied a family member at the end of life for over 2 months and less than 2 years. Five nominal groups and five discussion groups were established, and 41 in-depth interviews with 123 participants were conducted. Atlas.ti 7.0 software was used to analyze the discourses. A comprehensive reading was carried out along with a second reading. The most relevant units of meaning were identified, and the categories were extracted. The categories were then grouped in dimensions and, finally, the contents of each dimension were interpreted and described given the appropriate clarifications.
Results: Four dimensions of the dying process emerged: differences in caregivers' perceptions of information and communication, a conspiracy of silence, consequences of the absence or presence of information, and the need for a culture change.
Conclusions: Poor management of health information and communication at the end of life increased the suffering and discomfort of patients and their families. The culture of denying and avoiding death is still present today. A change in education about death would better enable health professionals to care for patients at the end of life.
The aim of the present study is to validate the Self-Efficacy in Palliative Care Scale (SEPC) in Spanish nursing professionals and students, to describe their levels of self-efficacy, and to determine the influencing factors. A validation study and a cross-sectional descriptive study were carried out, with the data analysed using contrast tests and multiple linear regression; 552 nurses and 440 nursing students participated. The Spanish version consists of 23 items and has a high degree of reliability (a = 0.944). Confirmatory factor analysis revealed one additional factor (i.e., management of psychosocial and spiritual aspects) in comparison to the original scale. Contrast tests revealed that the mean SEPC score was higher in professionals than in students (p < 0.001) and that the professionals who had higher levels of self-efficacy were older (p < 0.001), had more previous training (p < 0.001), and had more experience in end-of-life care (p = 0.001). The linear analysis results confirm a significant association between age and previous training in end-of-life care. The Spanish version of the SEPC is a reliable tool for both nursing professionals and students. The level of self-efficacy of both groups is moderate and is influenced by age, experience, and training in end-of-life care.
A death with dignity is influenced by the quality of care offered to patients. The objective of this study was to identify, through the firsthand experiences and insights of family caregivers, the key elements related to the care offered to patients with a terminal illness at the end of life. This multicenter qualitative study was based on the paradigm of hermeneutic phenomenology. Participants were relatives of patients with terminal illness who had been identified as primary caregivers. Five discussion groups and 41 in-depth interviews were organized with a total of 81 participants. The content of the interviews was analyzed based on the methods developed by Giorgi (J Phenom Psychol 1997;28(2):235-260). The results indicate the existence of 3 dimensions: the caregiver’s suffering, compassion satisfaction with the care provided, and the support of health care professionals. Understanding the experiences of family members providing end-of-life care allows improved care and provides dignity in death. Health and social systems must provide comprehensive assistance covering the different aspects of needed care. Health professionals occupy a privileged position in the care of these patients and their families.
Background: An important concern of healthcare professionals when exploring the wish to hasten death with patients is the risk of causing them some type of distress.
Aim: To assess the opinion of hospitalized patients with advanced cancer about the proactive assessment of the wish to hasten death.
Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional study.
Setting/participants: We assessed 193 advanced cancer patients admitted to an oncology ward for the wish to hasten death using a semi-structured clinical interview. After the assessment the participants were surveyed to determine whether they found the interview upsetting and, if so to what extent, and also their opinion regarding the assessment’s importance.
Results: The wish to hasten death was reported by 46 (23.8%) patients. The majority of patients (94.8%) did not find talking about the wish to hasten death to be upsetting, regardless of whether they presented it or not. The majority of patients (79.3%) considered that it was either quite or extremely important for the clinician to proactively assess the wish to hasten death and discuss this topic, regardless of whether they experienced it.
Conclusions: In this study, most of the advanced cancer patients did not find the assessment of wish to hasten death to be upsetting, and a substantial proportion of patients in this study believe that it is important to routinely evaluate it in this setting. These findings suggest that healthcare professionals can explore the wish to hasten death proactively in routine clinical practice without fear of upsetting patients.