Importance: Palliative care has shown benefits in reducing symptom intensity and quality of life in patients with advanced cancer. However, high-quality evidence to support palliative care policy and service developments for patients with long-term neurological conditions (LTNCs) is lacking.
Objective: To determine the effectiveness of a short-term integrated palliative care (SIPC) intervention for people with LTNCs.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Multicenter, phase 3, randomized clinical trial conducted from April 1, 2015, to November 30, 2017, with a last follow-up date of May 31, 2018, in 7 UK hospitals with both neurology and palliative care services. A total of 535 patients with LTNC were assessed for eligibility and 350 were randomized. Inclusion criteria were patients 18 years or older with any advanced stage of multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease, idiopathic Parkinson disease multiple system atrophy, or progressive supranuclear palsy. Data were analyzed from November 2018 to March 2019.
Interventions: Patients were randomized 1:1 using minimization method to receive SIPC (intervention, n = 176) or standard care (control, n = 174).
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcome was change in 8 key palliative care symptoms from baseline to 12-weeks, measured by the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale for neurological conditions. Secondary outcomes included change in the burden of other symptoms, health-related quality of life, caregiver burden, and costs. Data were collected and analyzed blindly by intention to treat.
Results: A total of 350 patients (mean [SD] age 67  years; years since diagnosis, 12 [range, 0-56]; 51% men; 49% requiring considerable assistance) with an advanced stage of LTNC were recruited, along with informal caregivers (n = 229). There were no between-group differences in primary outcome (effect size, -0.16; 95% CI, -0.37 to 0.05), any other patient-reported outcomes, adverse events, or survival. Although there was more symptom reduction in the SIPC group in relation to mean change in primary outcome, the difference between the groups was not statistically significant (-0.78; 95% CI, -1.29 to -0.26 vs -0.28; 95% CI, -0.82 to 0.26; P = .14). There was a decrease in mean health and social care costs from baseline to 12 weeks -$1367 (95% CI, -$2450 to -$282) in the SIPC group and -653 (95% CI, -$1839 to -$532) in the control group, but this difference was not statistically significant (P = .12). SIPC was perceived by patients and caregivers as building resilience, attending to function and deficits, and enabling caregivers.
Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, SIPC was not statistically significantly different from standard care for the patient-reported outcomes. However, SIPC was associated with lower cost, and in qualitative analysis was well-received by patients and caregivers, and there were no safety concerns. Further research is warranted.
Objectives: The choice of drug treatment in advanced soft tissue sarcoma (STS) continues to be a challenge regarding efficacy, quality of life (QoL) and toxicity. Unlike other cancer types, where integrating patient-reported outcomes (PRO) has proven to be beneficial for QoL, there is no such evidence in patients with STS as of now. The YonLife trial aimed to explore the effect of a tailored multistep intervention on QoL, symptoms and survival in patients with advanced STS undergoing treatment with trabectedin as well as identifying predictors of QoL.
Design: YonLife is a cluster-randomised, open-label, proof-of-concept study. The intervention incorporates electronic PRO assessment, a case vignette and expert-consented treatment recommendations.
Participants: Six hospitals were randomised to the control arm (CA) or interventional arm (IA). Seventy-nine patients were included of whom 40 were analysed as per-protocol analysis set.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: The primary end point was the change of Functional Assessment for Cancer Therapy (FACT-G) total score after 9 weeks. Secondary outcomes included QoL (FACT-G subscales), anorexia and cachexia (Functional Assessment of Anorexia/Cachexia Therapy (FAACT)), symptoms (MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI)), anxiety and depression (HADS), pain intensity and interference (Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)) and survival assessment.
Results: After 9 weeks of treatment, QoL declined less in the IA ( FACT-G total score: -2.4, 95% CI: -9.2 to 4.5) as compared with CA ( FACT-G total score: -3.9; 95% CI:-11.3 to 3.5; p=0.765). In almost all FACT-G subscales, average declines were lower in IA, but without reaching statistical significance. Smaller adverse trends between arms were observed for MDASI, FAACT, HADS and BPI scales. These trends failed to reach statistical significance. Overall mean survival was longer in IA (648 days) than in CA (389 days, p=0.110). QoL was predicted by symptom severity, symptom interference, depression and anxiety.
Conclusion: Our data suggest a potentially favourable effect of an electronic patient-reported outcomes based intervention on QoL that needs to be reappraised in confirmatory studies.
CONTEXT: Evaluation of end-of-life care is a key element in quality improvement, and population-based mortality follow-back designs have been used in several countries. This design was adapted to evaluate a Good Death in Japan.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explain the scientific background and rationale for assessing the feasibility of a mortality follow-back survey using a randomized design.
DESIGN: We utilized a cross-sectional, questionnaire survey to assess feasibility using response rate, sample representativeness, effect on response rate with two methods, and survey acceptability.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The subjects were 4,812 bereaved family members of patients who died from the major five causes of death: cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, pneumonia, or kidney failure, using mortality data.
RESULTS: Overall, 682 (14.2%) questionnaires could not be delivered, and 2,294 (55.5%) family members agreed to participate in the survey. There was little difference in the distribution of characteristics between the study subjects and the full population, and sample representativeness was acceptable. Sending the questionnaire with a pen achieved a higher response rate than without (weighted: 48.2% vs. 40.8%; p<0.001). In follow-up contact, there was no difference in response rate between resending the questionnaire and a reminder letter alone (weighted: 32.9% vs. 32.4%; p=0.803). In total, 84.8% (weighted) of the participants agreed with improving quality of care through this kind of survey.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated the feasibility of conducting a population-based mortality follow-back survey using a randomized design. An attached pen with the questionnaire was effective in improving the response rate.
Background: Patients living in rural areas experience a variety of unmet needs that result in healthcare disparities. The triple threat of rural geography, racial inequities, and older age hinders access to high-quality palliative care (PC) for a significant proportion of Americans. Rural patients with life-limiting illness are at risk of not receiving appropriate palliative care due to a limited specialty workforce, long distances to treatment centers, and limited PC clinical expertise. Although culture strongly influences people’s response to diagnosis, illness, and treatment preferences, culturally based care models are not currently available for most seriously ill rural patients and their family caregivers. The purpose of this randomized clinical trial (RCT) is to compare a culturally based tele-consult program (that was developed by and for the rural southern African American (AA) and White (W) population) to usual hospital care to determine the impact on symptom burden (primary outcome) and patient and care partner quality of life (QOL), care partner burden, and resource use post-discharge (secondary outcomes) in hospitalized AA and White older adults with a life-limiting illness.
Methods: Community Tele-pal is a three-site RCT that will test the efficacy of a community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for hospitalized rural AA and W older adults with life-limiting illnesses (n = 352) and a care partner. Half of the participants (n = 176) and a care partner (n = 176) will be randomized to receive the culturally based palliative care consult. The other half of the patient participants (n = 176) and care partners (n = 176) will receive usual hospital care appropriate to their illness.
Discussion: This is the first community-developed, culturally based PC tele-consult program for rural southern AA and W populations. If effective, the tele-consult palliative program and methods will serve as a model for future culturally based PC programs that can reduce patients’ symptoms and care partner burden.
Importance: National guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure, which disproportionately affects rural and minority populations.
Objective: To determine the effect of an early palliative care telehealth intervention over 16 weeks on the quality of life, mood, global health, pain, and resource use of patients with advanced heart failure.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind, intervention vs usual care randomized clinical trial was conducted from October 1, 2015, to May 31, 2019, among 415 patients 50 years or older with New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure or American College of Cardiology stage C or D heart failure at a large Southeastern US academic tertiary medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center serving high proportions of rural dwellers and African American individuals.
Interventions: The ENABLE CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers) intervention comprises an in-person palliative care consultation and 6 weekly nurse-coach telephonic sessions (20-40 minutes) and monthly follow-up for 48 weeks.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were quality of life (as measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ]: score range, 0-100; higher scores indicate better perceived health status and clinical summary scores =50 are considered “fairly good” quality of life; and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Palliative-14 [FACIT-Pal-14]: score range, 0-56; higher scores indicate better quality of life) and mood (as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Global Health), pain (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Pain Intensity and Interference), and resource use (hospital days and emergency department visits).
Results: Of 415 participants (221 men; baseline mean [SD] age, 63.8 [8.5] years) randomized to ENABLE CHF-PC (n = 208) or usual care (n = 207), 226 (54.5%) were African American, 108 (26.0%) lived in a rural area, and 190 (45.8%) had a high-school education or less, and a mean (SD) baseline KCCQ score of 52.6 (21.0). At week 16, the mean (SE) KCCQ score improved 3.9 (1.3) points in the intervention group vs 2.3 (1.2) in the usual care group (difference, 1.6; SE, 1.7; d = 0.07 [95% CI, -0.09 to 0.24]) and the mean (SE) FACIT-Pal-14 score improved 1.4 (0.6) points in the intervention group vs 0.2 (0.5) points in the usual care group (difference, 1.2; SE, 0.8; d = 0.12 [95% CI, -0.03 to 0.28]). There were no relevant between-group differences in mood (HADS-anxiety, d = -0.02 [95% CI, –0.20 to 0.16]; HADS-depression, d = –0.09 [95% CI, –0.24 to 0.06]).
Conclusions and Relevance: This randomized clinical trial with a majority African American sample and baseline good quality of life did not demonstrate improved quality of life or mood with a 16-week early palliative care telehealth intervention. However, pain intensity and interference (secondary outcomes) demonstrated a clinically important improvement.
CONTEXT: Advance care planning is essential to enable informed medical decisions to be made and to reduce aggressiveness in EOL care.
OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to explore whether a Question Prompt List (QPL) adapted to French language and culture could promote discussions, particularly on prognosis and EOL issues, among advanced cancer patients attending outpatient palliative care (PC) consultations.
METHODS: In this multicentre randomised study, patients assigned to the intervention arm received a QPL to help them prepare for the next consultation one month later. The main inclusion criteria were advanced cancer patients referred to the PC team with an estimated life expectancy of less than one year. The primary endpoint was the number of questions raised, globally and by topic. The secondary objectives were the impact of the QPL on psychological symptoms, quality-of-life (QoL), satisfaction with care and coping styles at two months.
RESULTS: Patients (n=71) in the QPL arm asked more questions (mean 21.8 versus 18.2, p-value=0.03) than patients in the control arm (n=71), particularly on PC (5.6 versus 3.7, p-value=0.012) and EOL issues (2.2 versus 1, p=0.018), but not on prognosis (4.3 versus 3.6, NS). At two months, there was no change in anxiety, depression or QoL in either arm; patient satisfaction with doctors' technical skills was scored higher (p-value=0.024) and avoidance coping responses were less frequent (self-distraction, p-value=0.015; behavioural disengagement, p-value=0.025) in the QPL arm.
CONCLUSIONS: Questions on PC and EOL issues in outpatient palliative care consultations were more frequent and patient satisfaction was better when a QPL was made available prior to the consultation.
BACKGROUND: Group visits can support health behavior change and self-efficacy. In primary care, an advance care planning (ACP) group visit may leverage group dynamics and peer mentorship to facilitate education and personal goal setting that result in ACP engagement.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether the ENgaging in Advance Care Planning Talks (ENACT) group visits intervention improves ACP documentation and readiness in older adults.
METHODS: This randomized clinical trial was conducted among geriatric primary care patients from the University of Colorado Hospital Seniors Clinic, Aurora, CO, from August 2017 to November 2019. Participants randomized to ENACT group visits (n = 55) participated in two 2-hour sessions with discussions of ACP topics and use of ACP tools (i.e., Conversation Starter Kit, Medical Durable Power of Attorney form, and PREPARE videos). Participants randomized to the control arm (n = 55) received the Conversation Starter Kit and a Medical Durable Power of Attorney form by mail. The primary outcomes included presence of ACP documents or medical decision-maker documentation in the electronic health record (EHR) at 6 months, and a secondary outcome was ACP readiness (validated four-item ACP Engagement Survey) at 6 months.
RESULTS: Participants were a mean of 77 years old, 60% female, and 79% white. At 6 months, 71% of ENACT participants had an advance directive in the EHR (26% higher) compared with 45% of control arm participants (P < .001). Similarly, 93% of ENACT participants had decision-maker documentation in the EHR (29% higher) compared with 73% in the control arm (P < .001). ENACT participants trended toward higher readiness to engage in ACP compared with control (4.56 vs 4.13; P = .16) at 6 months.
CONCLUSION: An ACP group visit increased ACP documentation and readiness to engage in ACP behavior change. Primary care teams can explore implementation and adaptation of ACP group visits into routine care, as well as longer-term impact on patient health outcomes.
BACKGROUND: Hospitalisation rates for the older population have been increasing with end-of-life care becoming a more medicalised and costly experience. There is evidence that some of these patients received non-beneficial treatment during their final hospitalisation with a third of the non-beneficial treatment duration spent in intensive care units. This study aims to increase appropriate care and treatment decisions and pathways for older patients at the end of life in Australia. This study will implement and evaluate a prospective feedback loop and tailored clinical response intervention at three hospitals in Queensland, Australia.
METHODS: A stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial will be conducted with up to 21 clinical teams in three acute hospitals over 70 weeks. The study involves clinical teams providing care to patients aged 75 years or older, who are prospectively identified to be at risk of non-beneficial treatment using two validated tools for detecting death and deterioration risks. The intervention's feedback loop will provide the teams with a summary of these patients' risk profiles as a stimulus for a tailored clinical response in the intervention phase. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research will be used to inform the intervention's implementation and process evaluation. The study will determine the impact of the intervention on patient outcomes related to appropriate care and treatment at the end of life in hospitals, as well as the associated healthcare resource use and costs. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients who are admitted to intensive care units. A process evaluation will be carried out to assess the implementation, mechanisms of impact, and contextual barriers and enablers of the intervention.
DISCUSSION: This intervention is expected to have a positive impact on the care of older patients near the end of life, specifically to improve clinical decision-making about treatment pathways and what constitutes appropriate care for these patients. These will reduce the incidence of non-beneficial treatment, and improve the efficiency of hospital resources and quality of care. The process evaluation results will be useful to inform subsequent intervention implementation at other hospitals.
CONTEXT: Many advanced cancer patients have unrealistic prognostic expectations.
OBJECTIVES: We tested whether offering life expectancy (LE) statistics within palliative chemotherapy (PC) education promotes realistic expectations.
METHODS: In this multicenter trial, patients with advanced colorectal and pancreatic cancers initiating first or second line PC were randomized to usual care versus a PC educational tool with optional LE information. Surveys at 2 weeks and 3 months assessed patients' review of the LE module and their reactions; at 3 months, patients estimated their LE and reported occurrence of prognosis and end-of-life (EOL) discussions. Wilcoxon tests and proportional odds models evaluated between-arm differences in LE self-estimates, and how realistic those estimates were (based on cancer type and line of treatment).
RESULTS: From 2015-2017, 92 patients were randomized to the intervention and 94 to usual care. At baseline most patients (80.9%) wanted "a lot" or "as much information as possible" about the impact of chemotherapy on LE. Among patients randomized to the intervention, 52.0% reviewed the LE module by 2 weeks and 66.7% by 3 months - of whom 88.2% reported the information was important, 31.4% reported it was upsetting, and 3.9% regretted reviewing it. Overall, patients' LE self-estimates were very optimistic; 71.4% of colorectal cancer patients estimated >5yrs; 50% pancreatic patients estimated >2yrs. The intervention had no effect on the length or realism of patients' LE self-estimates, or on the occurrence of prognostic or EOL discussions.
CONCLUSIONS: Offering LE information within a PC educational intervention had no effect on patients' prognostic expectations.
Objective: Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) has a poor prognosis and high symptom burden. RESPECT-Meso was a multicenter randomized study examining the role of early specialist palliative care (SPC) on quality of life (QoL) with MPM. This is a post-hoc exploratory analysis of the symptom burden and unmet needs identified from RESPECT-Meso participants.
Methods: Exploratory analysis from 174 participants using the General Health Status (GHS) measure (from the EORTC QLQ-C30 QoL questionnaire) and 87 participants using validated assessment questionnaires in those randomized to SPC. Eligibility for the study included confirmed MPM with diagnosis <6 weeks prior, performance score (PS) 0 or 1, no significant physical or psychological comorbidity. Cox proportional hazards models were derived to examine for relationships with survival. Free text was assessed using content analysis, looking for common themes and words.
Results: Participants were predominantly male (79.9%), mean age 72.8 years, PS was 0 in 38%, 78% of MPM was epithelioid. At least 3 symptoms were reported in 69.8% of participants, including fatigue (81%), dyspnea (73.3%), pain (61.2%), weight loss (59.3%). Anxiety was reported by 54.7% of participants, 52.3% low mood and 48.8% anhedonia symptoms. After multivariable adjustment, only pain remained statistically significant with a hazard ratio (HR) 2.9 (95% CI 1.3-6.7; p = 0.01). For each 1 unit increase in GHS score, the HR for death was 0.987 (0.978-0.996; p = 0.006), indicating a worse reported QoL is related to shorter survival. Unmet needs were common: 25.9% wanted more information about their condition, 24.7% about their care and 21.2% about their treatment. 79.1% were concerned about the effect of their illness on family.
Conclusion: There is a high symptom burden in mesothelioma despite good baseline performance status. A worse QoL is associated with a worse survival. Unmet needs are common, perhaps highlighting a need for improved communication and information sharing.
INTRODUCTION: Advance care planning (ACP) is associated with improved health outcomes for patients with cancer, and its absence is associated with unfavourable outcomes for patients and their caregivers. However, older adults do not complete ACP at expected rates due to patient and clinician barriers. We present the original design, methods and rationale for a trial aimed at improving ACP for older patients with advanced cancer and the modified protocol in response to changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The Advance Care Planning: Promoting Effective and Aligned Communication in the Elderly study is a pragmatic, stepped-wedge cluster randomised trial examining a Comprehensive ACP Program. The programme combines two complementary evidence-based interventions: clinician communication skills training (VitalTalk) and patient video decision aids (ACP Decisions). We will implement the programme at 36 oncology clinics across three unique US health systems. Our primary outcome is the proportion of eligible patients with ACP documentation completed in the electronic health record. Our secondary outcomes include resuscitation preferences, palliative care consultations, death, hospice use and final cancer-directed therapy. From a subset of our patient population, we will collect surveys and video-based declarations of goals and preferences. We estimate 11 000 patients from the three sites will be enrolled in the study.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Regulatory and ethical aspects of this trial include Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval via single IRB of record mechanism at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Data Use Agreements among partners and a Data Safety and Monitoring Board. We plan to present findings at national meetings and publish the results.
BACKGROUND: Digital tools to document care preferences in serious illnesses are increasingly common, but their impact is unknown. We developed a web-based advance directive (AD) featuring (1) modular content eliciting detailed care preferences, (2) the ability to electronically transmit ADs to the electronic health record (EHR), and (3) use of nudges to promote document transmission and sharing.
OBJECTIVE: To compare a web-based, EHR-transmissible AD to a paper AD.
METHODS: Patients with gastrointestinal and lung malignancies were randomized to the web or paper AD. The primary outcome was the proportion of patients with newly documented advance care plans in the EHR at 8 weeks. Secondary outcomes assessed through an e-mail survey included the change in satisfaction with end-of-life plans, AD acceptability, and self-reported sharing with a surrogate.
RESULTS: Ninety-one participants were enrolled: 46 randomly allocated to the web AD and 45 to paper. Thirteen patients assigned to web AD (28%) had new documentation versus 7 (16%) assigned to paper (P = .14). Adjusted for demographic factors and primary diagnosis, the odds ratio of new documentation with web AD was 3.7 (95% CI: 0.8-17.0, P = .10). Satisfaction with advance care planning and AD acceptability were high in both groups and not significantly different. Among patients completing web ADs, 79% reported sharing plans with their caregivers, compared with 65% of those completing paper ADs (P = .40).
CONCLUSION: Web-based ADs hold promise for promoting documentation and sharing of preferences, but larger studies are needed to quantify effects on these intermediate end points and on patient-centered outcomes.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers have substantial misperceptions regarding hospice, which contributes to its underuse.
Methods: The authors conducted a single-site randomized trial of a video educational tool versus a verbal description of hospice in 150 hospitalized patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. Patients without a caregiver were eligible. Intervention participants (75 patients and 18 caregivers) viewed a 6-minute video depicting hospice. Control participants (75 patients and 26 caregivers) received a verbal description identical to the video narrative. The primary outcome was patient preference for hospice. Secondary outcomes included patient and/or caregiver knowledge and perceptions of hospice, and hospice use.
Results: Between February 2017 and January 2019, approximately 55.7% of eligible patients (150 of 269 eligible patients) and 44 caregivers were enrolled. After the intervention, there was no difference noted with regard to patients' preferences for hospice (86.7% vs 82.7%; P = .651). Patients in the video group reported greater knowledge regarding hospice (9.0 vs 8.4; P = .049) and were less likely to endorse that hospice is only about death (6.7% vs 21.6%; P = .010). Among deceased patients, those assigned to the intervention were more likely to have used hospice (85.2% vs 63.6%; P = .01) and to have had a longer hospice length of stay (median, 12 days vs 3 days; P < .001). After the intervention, caregivers assigned to view the video were more likely to prefer hospice for their loved ones (94.4% vs 65.4%; P = .031), reported greater knowledge concerning hospice (9.7% vs 8.0%; P = .001), and were less likely to endorse that hospice is only about death (0.0% vs 23.1%; P = .066).
Conclusions: A hospice video did not significantly impact patients' preferences for hospice care. Patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers who were assigned to view the video were more informed regarding hospice and reported more favorable perceptions of hospice. Patients were more likely to use hospice and to have a longer hospice length of stay.
Background: The role of neuroleptics for terminal agitated delirium is controversial. We assessed the effect of three neuroleptic strategies on refractory agitation in patients with cancer with terminal delirium.
Methods: In this single-centre, double-blind, parallel-group, randomised trial, patients with advanced cancer, aged at least 18 years, admitted to the palliative and supportive care unit at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, TX, USA), with refractory agitation, despite low-dose haloperidol, were randomly assigned to receive intravenous haloperidol dose escalation at 2 mg every 4 h, neuroleptic rotation with chlorpromazine at 25 mg every 4 h, or combined haloperidol at 1 mg and chlorpromazine at 12·5 mg every 4 h, until death or discharge. Rescue doses identical to the scheduled doses were administered at inception, and then hourly as needed. Permuted block randomisation (block size six; 1:1:1) was done, stratified by baseline Richmond Agitation Sedation Scale (RASS) scores. Research staff, clinicians, patients, and caregivers were masked to group assignment. The primary outcome was change in RASS score from time 0 to 24 h. Comparisons among group were done by modified intention-to-treat analysis. This completed study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03021486.
Findings: Between July 5, 2017, and July 1, 2019, 998 patients were screened for eligibility, with 68 being enrolled and randomly assigned to treatment; 45 received the masked study interventions (escalation n=15, rotation n=16, combination n=14). RASS score decreased significantly within 30 min and remained low at 24 h in the escalation group (n=10, mean RASS score change between 0 h and 24 h -3·6 [95% CI -5·0 to -2·2]), rotation group (n=11, -3·3 [–4·4 to -2·2]), and combination group (n=10, -3·0 [–4·6 to -1·4]), with no difference among groups (p=0·71). The most common serious toxicity was hypotension (escalation n=6 [40%], rotation n=5 [31%], combination n=3 [21%]); there were no treatment-related deaths.
Interpretation: Our data provide preliminary evidence that the three strategies of neuroleptics might reduce agitation in patients with terminal agitation. These findings are in the context of the single-centre design, small sample size, and lack of a placebo-only group.
Funding: National Institute of Nursing Research.
Background: Communities have limited understanding of palliative care, creating barriers to informed choice around consideration of a full range of care options in the event of serious illness. Few empirically tested interventions are available to educate community about palliative care, and ultimately improve timely access to these services.
Aim: To test the acceptability (primary outcome), and feasibility of a narrative approach to public health communication seeking to improve attitudes to possible access to palliative care in the event of serious illness.
Design: Randomised phase II trial with six parallel experimental conditions. Outcomes tested included measures of acceptability, feasibility and change in attitudes to possible access to palliative care post-intervention. Contrasts planned for exploratory testing included format, message content and narrator.
Setting/participants: Community-based sample of consecutive English-speaking adults who volunteered their participation in response to a study advertisement distributed online through established community groups.
Results: A narrative approach to public health communication was found to be acceptable to community members, and feasible to deliver online. Exploratory data suggested it immediately improved attitudes towards possible access to palliative care in the event of serious illness, with the narrative detailing a description of the evidence delivered by a healthcare professional appearing to be the most promising strategy.
Conclusions: This study provides preliminary data to inform a future, longitudinal trial evaluating effectiveness and ultimately other evidence-based, public health approaches to improve community engagement with palliative care. Further studies are required to confirm the generalisability of findings to a broader representative sample and other settings including internationally.
Context: Although it is well known that patients with advanced pancreatic cancer (PC) experience significant symptom burden, few strategies for effective symptom intervention are available for them.
Objectives: To investigate the efficacy of minocycline, an anti-inflammatory agent, for symptom reduction in patients with advanced PC.
Methods: We conducted Phase II, randomized, and placebo-controlled trial to obtain preliminary estimates of the effects on symptom reduction with 100 mg of minocycline or placebo given twice a day. Eligible patients had diagnosed advanced PC and were scheduled for standard chemotherapy. Patient-reported symptoms were measured weekly during the eight-week trial using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory (MDASI) module in patients with gastrointestinal cancer. The primary outcome measure was the area under the curve values of the five most severe symptoms in the two arms.
Results: Of the 44 patients recruited, 31 (71%) were evaluable for the primary efficacy analysis, with 18 received minocycline and 13 placebo. Fatigue, pain, disturbed sleep, lack of appetite, and drowsiness were the most severe symptoms reported by both groups. No significant differences in area under the curve values over time between the study arms were found for the composite MDASI score or single-item scores of the five most severe MDASI items. No treatment-related deaths were reported, and no Grade 3–4 toxicities were observed.
Conclusion: Minocycline is safe for use in patients receiving treatment for PC. There is no observed symptom reduction with minocycline on the major symptom burden associated with advanced PC compared with placebo. Attrition because of rapid disease progression impacted the study significantly.
Context: Previous work has found that facilitated advance care planning (ACP) interventions are effective in increasing ACP uptake among patients with severe respiratory disease.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to investigate whether a nurse-led, facilitated ACP intervention among participants with severe respiratory disease impacts self-reported or clinical outcomes.
Methods: A multicenter, open-label, patient-preference, randomized controlled trial of a nurse-led facilitated ACP intervention was performed. Outcome measures included self-report scales (health care satisfaction and EQ-5D-5L health-related quality of life at three- and six-month follow-up), 12-month mortality, and health care utilization during the final 90 days of life.
Results: One hundred forty-nine participants were recruited across two study settings (metropolitan tertiary hospital respiratory department and rural sites) and 106 were allocated to receive the ACP intervention. There was no effect of the intervention on satisfaction with health care, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rates. Among those participants who died during the follow-up period (N = 54), those allocated to the ACP intervention had significantly fewer outpatient consultations (7.51 vs. 13.6, P < 0.001). There were no changes in emergency department attendances, total hospital admissions or length of stay, or home nursing visits. Among those allocated to the ACP intervention, there was a reduced length of stay in acute hospital settings (7.76 vs. 11.5 nights, P < 0.001) and increased length of stay in palliative hospital settings (5.54 vs. 2.08, P < 0.001) during the final 90 days of life.
Conclusion: A facilitated ACP intervention among patients with severe respiratory disease did not have an impact on satisfaction, health-related quality of life, or 12-month mortality rate. Facilitated ACP may be associated with a different type of health care utilization during the end-of-life period.
Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the unique care needs of older adults with cancer. This study sought to determine the feasibility of delivering a transdisciplinary intervention targeting the geriatric-specific (physical function and comorbidity) and palliative care (symptoms and prognostic understanding) needs of older adults with advanced cancer.
Methods: Patients aged =65 years with incurable gastrointestinal or lung cancer were randomly assigned to a transdisciplinary intervention or usual care. Those in the intervention arm received 2 visits with a geriatrician, who addressed patients’ palliative care needs and conducted a geriatric assessment. We predefined the intervention as feasible if >70% of eligible patients enrolled in the study and >75% of eligible patients completed study visits and surveys. At baseline and week 12, we assessed patients’ quality of life (QoL), symptoms, and communication confidence. We calculated mean change scores in outcomes and estimated intervention effect sizes (ES; Cohen’s d) for changes from baseline to week 12, with 0.2 indicating a small effect, 0.5 a medium effect, and 0.8 a large effect. Results: From February 2017 through June 2018, we randomized 62 patients (55.9% enrollment rate [most common reason for refusal was feeling too ill]; median age, 72.3 years; cancer types: 56.5% gastrointestinal, 43.5% lung). Among intervention patients, 82.1% attended the first visit and 79.6% attended both. Overall, 89.7% completed all study surveys. Compared with usual care, intervention patients had less QoL decrement (–0.77 vs –3.84; ES = 0.21), reduced number of moderate/severe symptoms (–0.69 vs +1.04; ES = 0.58), and improved communication confidence (+1.06 vs –0.80; ES = 0.38).
Conclusions: In this pilot trial, enrollment exceeded 55%, and >75% of enrollees completed all study visits and surveys. The transdisciplinary intervention targeting older patients’ unique care needs showed encouraging ES estimates for enhancing patients’ QoL, symptom burden, and communication confidence.
BACKGROUND: Recent studies have shown substantial deficiencies in the quality or quantity (or both) of communication and decision-making during serious illness. We evaluated the efficacy of a novel decision support intervention, the Plan Well Guide, in increasing completion of a standard medical order form for advance medical care planning and improving decisional outcomes in nonacademic primary care settings.
METHODS: We conducted a randomized trial in 3 primary care practices in Lethbridge, Alberta in 2017-2018. We recruited "patients at high risk" referred by the primary care doctor who required establishment or review of their Goals of Care Designation (GCD). Enrolled patients were randomly allocated to receive the Plan Well Guide, delivered by a trained facilitator, or usual care. Eight to 12 weeks after the intervention, a research assistant blinded to intervention assignment contacted the patients in both groups by telephone to do a final outcome assessment. The primary outcome was completion of GCD forms; secondary outcomes included decisional conflict scores and ratings of satisfaction.
RESULTS: A total of 123 patients (59 women [48.0%]; mean age 73.9 yr) were enrolled, 66 in the intervention arm and 57 in the usualcare arm; 119 patients completed the trial. After the intervention, GCD completion rates in the intervention and usual-care groups were 95.3% and 90.9%, respectively (risk difference [RD] 4%, 95% confidence interval [CI] -14% to 22%), and the rate of concordance between medical orders and expressed preferences on follow-up was 78% and 66%, respectively (RD 12%, 95% CI -7% to 30%). Significantly fewer patients in the intervention group than in the usual-care group had written medical orders for intensive care unit care and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (22 [34%] v. 33 [60%], RD -26%, 95% CI -42% to -8%). Patients in the intervention group had lower decisional conflict scores than those in the usual-care group (mean 30.9 v. 43.1, adjusted mean difference -12.0, 95% CI -23.2 to -0.8). Physicians considered patients in the intervention group to have lower decisional conflict than those in the usual-care group, although not significantly so (mean score 10.4 v. 14.9, adjusted mean difference -4.7, 95% CI -9.9 to 0.4) and spent less time with the former (mean 9.7 v. 13.2 min, adjusted mean difference -3.5, 95% CI -5.5 to -1.5 min).
INTERPRETATION: The decision-support intervention did not increase GCD completion rates but did seem to improve some aspects of decisional quality while reducing the physician's time to accomplish GCD decisions.
Outpatient palliative care (PC) improved quality of life and symptoms among patients with Parkinson disease and related disorders in a trial in JAMA Neurology.
The study’s 210 patients and 175 caregivers were randomly assigned to outpatient integrative PC or to standard care. Every 3 months for a year, participants received PC visits either in person or via telemedicine from a neurologist, social worker, chaplain, and nurse with guidance from a palliative medicine specialist. Standard care was provided by a neurologist and a primary care clinician.