Background: Palliative care is a modality of treatment that addresses physical, psychological and spiritual symptoms. Dignity therapy, a form of psychotherapy, was developed by Professor Harvey Chochinov, MD in 2005.The aim of the study was to assess the effect of one session of dignity therapy on quality of life in advanced cancer patients.
Methods: This was a randomized control trial of 144 patients (72 in each arm) randomized into group 1 (intervention arm) and group 2 (control arm). Baseline ESAS scores were determined in both arms following which group 1 received Dignity therapy while Group 2 received usual care only. Data collected was presented as printed (Legacy) documents to group 1 participants. These documents were a summary of previous discussions held. Post intervention ESAS scores were obtained in both groups after 6 weeks. Analysis was based on the intention to treat principle and descriptive statistics computed. The main outcome was symptom distress scores on the ESAS (summated out of 100 and symptom specific scores out of 10). The student T-test was used to test for difference in ESAS scores at follow up and graphs were computed for common cancers and comorbidities.
Results: Of the 144 (72 patients in each arm) patients randomized, 70% were female while 30% were male with a mean age of 50 years. At 6 weeks, 11 patients were lost to follow up, seven died and 126 completed the study. The commonly encountered cancers were gastrointestinal cancers (43%, p = 0.29), breast cancer (27.27% p = 0.71) and gynaecologic cancers (23% p = 0.35). Majority of the patients i.e. 64.3% had no comorbidities.
The primary analysis results showed higher scores for the DT group (change in mean = 1.57) compared to the UC group (change in mean = - 0.74) yielding a non-statistically significant difference in change scores of 1.44 (p = 0.670; 95% CI - 5.20 to 8.06). After adjusting for baseline scores, the mean (summated) symptom distress score was not significant (GLM p = 0.78). Dignity therapy group showed a trend towards statistical improvement in anxiety (p = 0.059). The largest effects seen were in improvement of appetite, lower anxiety and improved wellbeing (Cohen effect size 0.3, 0.5 and 0.31 respectively).
Conclusion: Dignity therapy showed no statistical improvement in overall quality of life. Symptom improvement was seen in anxiety and this was a trend towards statistical significance (p = 0.059).
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.
Context: There has been increasing evidence of the role of mindfulness-based interventions in improving various health conditions. However, the evidence for the use of mindfulness in the palliative care setting is still lacking.
Objectives: The objective of our study was to determine the efficacy of a single session of 20 min mindful breathing in alleviating multiple symptoms in palliative care.
Methods: Adult palliative care in patients with at least one symptom scoring =5/10 based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) were recruited from September 2018 to December 2018. Recruited patients were randomly assigned to either 20 min mindful breathing and standard care or standard care alone.
Results: Forty patients were randomly assigned to standard care plus a 20 min mindful breathing session (n=20) or standard care alone (n=20). There was statistically significant reduction of total ESAS score in the mindful breathing group compared with the control group at minute 20 (U=98, n 1 = n 2 = 20, mean rank 1 = 15.4, mean rank 2 = 25.6, median reduction 1 = 6.5, median reduction 2 = 1.5, z=-2.763, r=0.3, p=0.005).
Conclusion: Our results provided evidence that a single session of 20 min mindful breathing was effective in reducing multiple symptoms rapidly for palliative care patients.
BACKGROUND: To assure patient-centred end-of-life care, palliative interventions need to account for patients' preferences. Advance care planning (ACP) is a structured approach that allows patients, relatives and physicians to discuss end-of-life decisions. Although ACP can improve several patient related outcomes, the implementation of ACP remains difficult. The col-ACP-study (collaborative advance care planning) will investigate a new ACP procedure (col-ACP-intervention (German: Hand-in-Hand Intervention)) in palliative cancer patients and their relatives that addresses individual values and targets barriers of communication before an ACP process.
METHODS: In a randomised controlled trial, 270 cancer patients without curative treatment options and their relatives will receive either 1) col-ACP 2) a supportive intervention (active control group) or 3) standard medical care (TAU). col-ACP comprises two steps: a) addressing various barriers of patients and relatives that discourage them from discussing end-of-life issues followed by b) a regular, structured ACP procedure. The col-ACP-intervention consists of 6 sessions. Primary endpoint is the patients' quality of life 16 weeks after randomisation. Secondary endpoints include measurements of distress; depression; communication barriers; caregivers' quality of life; existence of ACP or advance directives; the consistence of end of life care; and others. Patients will be followed up for 13 months. Multivariate analyses will be carried out. Qualitative evaluation of the intervention will be conducted.
DISCUSSION: Augmentation of a regular ACP program by a structured psycho-oncological intervention is an innovative approach to target barriers of communication about end-of-life issues. Study findings will help to understand the value of such a combined intervention in palliative care.
Introduction: Dignity Therapy (DT) is a brief, individualized, narrative psychotherapy developed to reduce psychosocial and existential distress, and promote dignity, meaning, and hope in end of life patients. Previous studies have shown that DT was effective in reducing anxiety and depression, and improving dignity-related distress. However, less is known about its efficacy on spiritual well-being. The aim of this study is to contribute to the existing literature by investigating the effects of DT on specific dimensions of spiritual well-being, demoralization and dignity-related distress in a sample of terminally ill patients.
Methods: A randomized, controlled trial was conducted with 64 terminally ill patients who were randomly assigned to the intervention group (DT + standard palliative care) or the control group (standard palliative care alone). The primary outcome measures were Meaning, Peace, and Faith whereas the secondary outcome measures were (loss of) Meaning and purpose, Distress and coping ability, Existential distress, Psychological distress, and Physical distress. All measures were assessed at baseline (before the intervention), 7-10 and 15-20 days after the baseline assessment. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov (Protocol Record NCT04256239).
Results: The MANOVA yielded a significant effect for the Group X Time interaction. ANOVA with repeated measures showed a significant effect of time on peace and a significant Group X Time interaction effect on peace. Post hoc comparisons revealed that, while there was a decrease in peace from pre-treatment to follow-up and from post-treatment to follow-up in the control group, there was no such trend in the intervention group. Discussion: This study provides initial evidence that patients in the DT intervention maintained similar levels of peace from pre-test to follow-up, whereas patients in the control group showed a decrease in peace during the same time period. We did not find significant longitudinal changes in measures of meaning, faith, loss of meaning and purpose, distress and coping ability, existential, psychological and physical distress. The findings of our study are of relevance in palliative care and suggest the potential clinical utility of DT, since they offer evidence for the importance of this intervention in maintaining peace of mind for terminally ill patients.
OBJECTIVES: To assess the effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on symptom burden, to explore intervention mechanisms through patient and intervention provider characteristics and to assess long-term survival and place of death.
MEASURES: The effect of a systematic, fast-track transition from oncological treatment to specialised palliative care at home on patient symptom burden was studied in the Domus randomised clinical trial. Participants had incurable cancer and limited treatment options. The intervention was provided by specialised palliative home teams (SPT) based in hospice or hospital and was enriched with a psychological intervention for patient and caregiver dyad. Symptom burden was measured with Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) at baseline, 8 weeks and 6 months follow-up and analysed with mixed models. Survival and place of death was analysed with Kaplan-Meier and Fisher's exact tests.
RESULTS: The study included 322 patients. Tiredness was significantly improved for the Domus intervention group at 6 months while the other nine symptom outcomes were not significantly different from the control group. Exploring the efficacy of intervention provider demonstrated significant differences in favour of the hospice SPT on four symptoms and total symptom score. Patients with children responded more favourably to the intervention. The long-term follow-up demonstrated no differences between the intervention and the control groups regarding survival or home deaths.
CONCLUSIONS: The Domus intervention may reduce tiredness. Moreover, the intervention provider and having children might play a role concerning intervention efficacy. The intervention did not affect survival or home deaths.
OBJECTIVES: PACE Steps to Success is a 1-year train-the-trainer program aiming to integrate nonspecialist palliative care into nursing homes via staff education and organizational support. In this study, we aimed to explore whether this program resulted in changes in residents' hospital use and place of death.
DESIGN: Secondary analysis of the PACE cluster randomized controlled trial (ISRCTN14741671). Data were collected on deaths over the previous 4 months via questionnaires at baseline and postintervention.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Questionnaires were completed by the nurse/care-assistant most involved from 78 nursing homes in 7 European Union countries.
MEASURES: We measured number of emergency department visits, hospital admissions, length of hospital stay, and place of death. Baseline and postintervention scores between intervention and control groups were compared, and we conducted exploratory mixed-model analyses. We collected 551 out of 610 questionnaires at baseline and 984 out of 1178 at postintervention in 37 intervention and 36 control homes.
RESULTS: We found no statistical significant effects of the program on emergency department visits [odds ratio (OR) = 1.38, P = .32], hospital admissions (OR = 0.98, P = .93), length of hospital stay (geometric mean difference = 0.85, P = .44), or place of death (OR = 1.08, P = .80).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: We found no effect of the PACE program on either hospital use in the last month of life or place of death. Although this may be related to implementation problems in some homes, the program might also require a more specific focus on managing acute end-of-life situations and a closer involvement of general practitioners or specialist palliative care services to influence hospital use or place of death.
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.
BACKGROUND: A novel evidence-based Narrative e-Writing Intervention (NeW-I) has been developed and tested in Singapore to advance psychosociospiritual support for parents of children with chronic life-threatening illnesses. NeW-I is informed by an international systematic review and a Singapore-based qualitative inquiry on the lived experience of parental bereavement and supported by literature on anticipatory grief interventions for improving the holistic well-being of parent caregivers of seriously ill children.
OBJECTIVE: This study's aim was to provide an accessible platform, NeW-I-which is a strengths- and meaning-focused and therapist-facilitated mobile app and web-based counseling platform-that aims to enhance quality of life, spiritual well-being, hope, and perceived social support and reduce depressive symptoms, caregiver burden, and risk of complicated grief among parents of children with chronic life-threatening illnesses.
METHODS: The NeW-I therapist-facilitated web-based platform comprises a mobile app and a website (both of which have the same content and functionality). NeW-I has been implemented in Singapore as a pilot open-label randomized controlled trial comprising intervention and control groups. Both primary and secondary outcomes will be self-reported by participants through questionnaires. In collaboration with leading pediatric palliative care providers in Singapore, the trial aims to enroll 36 participants in each group (N=72), so that when allowing for 30% attrition at follow-up, the sample size will be adequate to detect a small effect size of 0.2 in the primary outcome measure, with 90% power and two-sided significance level of at least .05. The potential effectiveness of NeW-I and the accessibility and feasibility of implementing and delivering the intervention will be assessed.
RESULTS: Funding support and institutional review board approval for this study have been secured. Data collection started in January 2019 and is ongoing.
CONCLUSIONS: NeW-I aspires to enhance holistic pediatric palliative care services through a structured web-based counseling platform that is sensitive to the unique cultural needs of Asian family caregivers who are uncomfortable with expressing emotion even during times of loss and separation. The findings of this pilot study will inform the development of a full-scale NeW-I protocol and further research to evaluate the efficacy of NeW-I in Singapore and in other Asian communities around the world.
Background: Implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death for high-risk patients with heart failure (HF), but shocks from these devices can also cause pain and anxiety at the end of life. Although professional society recommendations encourage proactive discussions about ICD deactivation, clinicians lack training in conducting these conversations, and they occur infrequently.
Methods: As part of a six-center randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the educational component of a multicomponent intervention shown to increase conversations about ICD deactivation by clinicians who care for a subset of patients with advanced HF. This consisted of a 90-minute training workshop designed to improve the quality and frequency of conversations about ICD management. To characterize its utility as an isolated intervention, we compared HF clinicians' pre- and postworkshop scores (on a 5-point Likert scale) assessing self-reported confidence and skills in specific practices of advance care planning, ICD deactivation discussions, and empathic communication.
Results: Forty intervention-group HF clinicians completed both pre- and postworkshop surveys. Preworkshop scores showed high baseline levels of confidence (4.36, standard deviation [SD = 0.70) and skill (4.08, SD = 0.72), whereas comparisons of pre- and postworkshop scores showed nonsignificant decreases in confidence (-1.16, p = 0.252) and skill (-0.20, p = 0.843) after the training session.
Conclusions: Our findings showed no significant changes in self-assessment ratings immediately after the educational intervention. However, our data did demonstrate that HF clinicians had high baseline self-perceptions of their skills in advance care planning conversations and appear to be well-primed for further professional development to improve communication in the setting of advanced HF.
Introduction: The transplant waiting list exceeds the number of organs available. One means of increasing the organ pool is to broaden potential donors to include those with chronic diseases.
Research Questions: The study tested the effectiveness of using peer mentors to encourage individuals on dialysis to enroll on an organ donor registry.
Design: Dialysis units were pair-matched by size and racial composition and then randomized to one of 2 interventions: meetings with a peer mentor (experimental intervention) or organ donation mailings (control). Peer mentors were trained to discuss organ donation with individuals on dialysis during in-person meetings at dialysis units. The primary outcome was verified registration in the state’s donor registry.
Results: After adjusting for age, gender, race, income, and education and accounting for correlation within the dialysis center, there was a significant intervention effect. Among individuals in the intervention group, the odds of enrolling (verified) on the donor registry were 2.52 times higher than those in the control group.
Discussion: The use of peer mentors to discuss donating organs after death with individuals on dialysis can increase enrollment on a donor registry. Dispelling myths about chronic illness and donation can counter widely held misconceptions and help persons make an informed choice about end-of-life decisions and present an opportunity to increase the number of organs and tissues available for transplant.
Heart failure is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Standard treatment for heart failure includes pharmacotherapy and cardiac device implants. However, supportive approaches in managing dyspnea in heart failure are limited. This study aimed to test the efficacy of 20-minute mindful breathing in reducing dyspnea among patients admitted for acute decompensated heart failure. We conducted a parallel-group, non-blinded, randomized controlled trial of a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing plus standard care versus standard care alone among patients admitted for moderate to severe dyspnea due to acute decompensated heart failure, using the dyspnea score based on the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), at the Cardiology Unit of University Malaya Medical Centre in Malaysia. Thirty participants were randomly assigned to a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing plus standard care (n = 15) or standard care alone (n = 15), with no difference in their demographic and clinical characteristics. There was statistically significant reduction in dyspnea in the intervention group compared to the control group at minute 20 (U = 49.5, n1 = 15, n2 =15, median reduction in ESAS dyspnea score 1 = 2, median reduction in ESAS dyspnea score 2 = 0, mean rank 1 = 11.30, mean rank 2 = 19.70, z = -2.692, r = 0.4, P = 0.007). Our results provided evidence that a single session of 20-minute mindful breathing was efficacious in reducing dyspnea for patients admitted for acute decompensated heart failure.
Background: Little is known about strategies for enrolling patients in home-based palliative care (HBPC) programs, despite the need to conduct effectiveness studies of this emerging industry.
Purpose: We used medical claims data from Accountable Care Organizations in California to identify patients for a randomized controlled trial of HBPC. We report outcomes from this strategy and the implications for future research.
Results: Claims data identified 1,357 patients. Research assistants could not reach 986 patients (72.7%), usually because the phone calls went unanswered (38.5%) and many patients’ phone numbers were missing or incorrect (16.3%). Of 371 patients reached, 163 opted out. Of 208 patients screened, 177 were ineligible for the trial. Just 10 patients were enrolled.
Recommendations: Our findings suggest that medical claims data may not be useful for engaging patients potentially eligible for palliative care research trials. We recommend that alternative identification and recruitment strategies be considered.
Background: o randomized controlled trials (RCT) have yet identified the optimal palliative radiotherapy scheme in patients with incurable head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). We conducted RCT to compare two radiation schemes in terms of efficacy, toxicity and quality-of-life (QoL).
Materials and methods: Patients with locally-advanced HNSCC who were ineligible for radical treatment and those with limited metastatic disease were randomly assigned in 1:1 ratio to arm 1 (36 Gy in 6 fractions, twice a week) or arm 2 (50 Gy in 16 fractions, four times a week).
Results: The trial was discontinued early because of slow accrual (34 patients enrolled). Objective response rates were 38.9% and 57.1% for arm 1 and 2 respectively (p = 0.476). The median time to loco-regional progression was not reached. The loco-regional control rates at 1 year was 57.4% and 69.3% in arm 1 and 2 (p = 0.450, HR = 0.56, 95%CI 0.12–2.58). One-year overall survival was 33.3% and 57.1%, with medians of 35.4 and 59.5 weeks, respectively (p = 0.215, HR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.21–1.43). Acute grade =3 toxicity was lower in arm 1 (16.7% versus 57.1%, p = 0.027), with the largest difference in grade 3 mucositis (5.6% versus 42.9%, p = 0.027). However, no significant deterioration in any of the patient-reported QoL-scales was found.
Conclusion: No solid conclusion could be made on this incomplete study which is closed early. Long-course radiotherapy did not show significantly better oncologic outcomes, but was associated with more acute grade 3 mucositis. No meaningful differences in QoL-scores were found. Therefore, the shorter schedule might be carefully advocated. However, this recommendation should be interpreted with great caution because of the inadequate statistical power.
Trial tested effect of advance care planning on family/surrogates’ understanding of patients’ end-of-life treatment preferences longitudinally. A multisite, assessor-blinded, intent-to-treat, parallel-group, randomized controlled clinical trial in five hospital-based HIV clinics enrolled 449 participants aged 22 to 77 years during October 2013-March 2017. Patients living with HIV/family dyads were randomized at 2:1 ratio to 2 weekly ~ 60-min sessions either ACP (n = 155 dyads)—(1) ACP facilitated conversation, (2) Advance directive completion; or Control (n = 68 dyads)—(1) Developmental/relationship history, (2) Nutrition/exercise tips. ACP families/surrogates were more likely to accurately report patients’ treatment preferences at Time 1 (T1) and 12 months post-intervention (T2) compared to controls, experiencing high congruence longitudinally (high high transition), [63·6% vs 37·7% (difference = 25·9%, 95% CI: 11·3%, 40·4%, 2 = 11·52, p = 0·01)], even as patients’ preferences changed over time. ACP families/surrogates had eight times the odds of controls of having an excellent understanding of patients’ treatment preferences (Adjusted Odds Ratio 7.91, 95%CI: 3.08, 20.3).
BACKGROUND: Early integration of palliative care concurrently to standard cancer care is associated with several benefits for patients and their caregivers. However, communication barriers on part of the caring physicians often impede a timely referral to palliative care. This study describes the protocol of the evaluation of a communication skills training aiming to strengthen the ability of physicians to address palliative care related topics adequately and early during disease trajectory.
METHODS: We will implement a communication skills training and evaluate it within a prospective, multi-centered, two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), which will be conducted at four sites in Germany. Eligible subjects are all physicians treating patients with advanced cancer in their daily routine. An intervention group (IG) receiving a group training will be compared to a wait-list control group (CG) receiving the training after completion of data collection. At pre- and post-measurement points, participants will conduct videotaped conversations with standardized simulated patients (SP). Primary outcome will be the external rating of communication skills and consulting competencies addressing palliative care related topics. Secondary outcomes on core concepts of palliative care, basic knowledge, attitudes, confidence and self-efficacy will be assessed by standardized questionnaires and self-developed items. A further external assessment of the quality of physician-patient-interaction will be conducted by the SP. Longitudinal quantitative data will be analyzed using covariate-adjusted linear mixed-models.
DISCUSSION: If the communication skills training proves to be effective, it will provide a feasible intervention to promote an earlier communication of palliative care related topics in the care of advanced cancer patients. This would help to further establish early integration of palliative care as it is recommended by national and international guidelines.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: To determine the feasibility of conducting a cluster randomized controlled trial providing individualized feedback reports to increase advance care planning (ACP) engagement in the primary care setting.
DESIGN: Pilot cluster randomized controlled trial.
SETTING: Two primary care practices selected for geographic colocation.
PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged 55 years and older.
INTERVENTION: Brief assessment of readiness to engage in (stage of change for) three ACP behaviors (healthcare agent assignment, communication with agent about quality vs quantity of life, and living will completion) generating an individualized feedback report, plus a stage-matched brochure.
MEASURES: Patient recruitment and retention, intervention delivery, baseline characteristics, and stage of change movement.
RESULTS: Recruitment rates differed by practice. Several baseline sociodemographic characteristics differed between the 38 intervention and 41 control participants, including employment status, education, and communication with healthcare agent. Feedback was successfully delivered to all intervention participants, and over 90% of participants completed a 2-month follow-up. More intervention participants demonstrated progression in readiness than did control participants, without testing for statistical significance.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot demonstrates opportunities and challenges of performing a clustered randomized controlled trial in primary care practices. Differences in the two practice populations highlight the challenges of matching sites. There was a signal for behavior change in the intervention group.
Background: A broad consensus on the optimal structure, intensity, and timing of early specialist palliative care (SPC) intervention is lacking.
Objective: To evaluate the benefit of an early and systematic palliative intervention alongside standard oncology care compared with standard oncology care alone in patients with advanced solid tumors.
Design: PALINT, a single-center RCT, conducted at the Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute, the largest comprehensive cancer center in the Czech Republic (CR).
Setting/Subjects/Measurements: Patients with newly diagnosed advanced cancer within six weeks from the start of the palliative systemic therapy were randomly assigned to the integration of SPC (intervention; a consultation with a PC physician every six to eight weeks) or to the standard oncology care (control). The primary endpoint was the quality of life (QOL) assessed by EORTC QLQ C30 and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at three and six months.
Results: From 2015 to 2017, a total of 126 patients were randomly assigned to intervention (60) or to control (66) arm. At baseline, at three and six months, the global QOL scores (mean, 95% CI) in the intervention and control arm were 58.6 (53.9–63.3), 61.9 (56.4–67.4) and 66.7 (60.2–73.2) versus 54.2 (49.4–58.9), 59.0 (53.7–64.3), and 62.8 (56.7–68.9), respectively. The prevalence of anxiety (HADS-A; value >7) was 36.7%, 27.5%, and 18.9% versus 34.8%, 23.5%, and 16.3% and the prevalence of depression (HADS-D; value >7) was 28.3%, 25.4%, and 29.7% versus 28.8%, 29.4%, and 27.9%, respectively. There was no significant difference between the two arms. The overall survival was similar in both arms (347 vs. 310 days; p = 0.203).
Conclusions: A model of early integration of SPC consisting of a consultation with a PC physician alone every six to eight weeks did not increase the QOL of patients with advanced cancer compared with routine oncology care in a center with widely available supportive services. These negative results underline the importance of the multidisciplinary patient centered approach in the early SPC.
PURPOSE: Patients with advanced cancer often have a poor understanding of cancer incurability, which correlates with more aggressive treatment near the end of life (EOL). We sought to determine whether training oncologists to elicit patient values for goals-of-care (GoC) discussions will increase and improve these discussions. We explored its impact on use of aggressive care at EOL.
METHODS: We enrolled and used block randomization to assign 92% of solid tumor oncologists to 2-hour communication skills training and four coaching sessions. We surveyed 265 patient with newly diagnosed advanced cancer with < 2-year life expectancy at baseline and 6 months. We assessed prevalence and quality of GoC communication, change in communication skills, and use of aggressive care in the last month of life.
RESULTS: Intervention (INT) oncologists' (n = 11) skill to elicit patient values increased (27%-55%), while usual care (UC) oncologists' (n = 11) skill did not (9%-0%; P = .01). Forty-eight percent (n = 74) INT v 51% (n = 56) UC patients reported a GoC discussion (P = .61). There was no difference in the prevalence or quality of GoC communication between groups (global odds ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.57 to 1.23). Within 6 months, there was no difference in deaths (18 INT v 16 UC; P = .51), mean hospitalizations (0.47 INT v 0.42 UC; P = .63), intensive care unit admissions (5% INT v 9% UC; P = .65), or chemotherapy (26% INT v 16% UC; P = .39).
CONCLUSION: Use of a coaching model focused on teaching oncologists to elicit patient values improved that skill but did not increase prevalence or quality of GoC discussions among patients with advanced cancer. There was no impact on high care utilization at EOL.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer, receiving at-home palliative care, are subject to numerous symptoms that are changeable and often require attention, a stressful situation that also impacts on the family caregiver. It has been suggested that music therapy may benefit both the patient and the caregiver. We propose a study to analyse the efficacy and cost utility of a music intervention programme, applied as complementary therapy, for cancer patients in palliative care and for their at-home caregivers, compared to usual treatment.
METHOD: A randomised, double-blind, multicentre clinical trial will be performed in cancer patients in at-home palliative care and their family caregivers. The study population will include two samples of 40 patients and two samples of 41 caregivers. Participants will be randomly assigned either to the intervention group or to the control group. The intervention group will receive a seven-day programme including music sessions, while the control group will receive seven sessions of (spoken word) therapeutic education. In this study, the primary outcome measure is the assessment of patients' symptoms, according to the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System, and of the overload experienced by family caregivers, measured by the Caregiver Strain Index. The secondary outcomes considered will be the participants' health-related quality of life, their satisfaction with the intervention, and an economic valuation.
DISCUSSION: This study is expected to enhance our understanding of the efficacy and cost-utility of music therapy for cancer patients in palliative care and for their family caregivers. The results of this project are expected to be applicable and transferrable to usual clinical practice for patients in home palliative care and for their caregivers. The approach described can be incorporated as an additional therapeutic resource within comprehensive palliative care. To our knowledge, no previous high quality studies, based on a double-blind clinical trial, have been undertaken to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of music therapy. The cost-effectiveness of the project will provide information to support decision making, thereby improving the management of health resources and their use within the health system.