Background: Although statements on the competencies required from physicians working within palliative care exist, these requirements have not been described within different levels of palliative care provision by multi-professional workshops, comprising representatives from working life. Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe the competencies required from physicians working within palliative care from the perspectives of multi-professional groups of representatives from working life.
Methods: A qualitative approach, using a workshop method, was conducted, wherein the participating professionals and representatives of patient organizations discussed the competencies that are required in palliative care, before reaching and documenting a consensus. The data (n = 222) was collected at workshops held in different parts of Finland and it was analyzed using a qualitative content analysis method.
Results: The description of the competencies required of every physician working within palliative care at the general level included 13 main categories and 50 subcategories in total. ‘Competence in advanced care planning and decision-making’ was the main category which was obtained from the highest number of reduced expressions from the original data (f = 125). Competence in social interactions was another strong main category (f = 107). In specialist level data, six main categories with 22 subcategories in total were found. ‘Competence in complex symptom management’ was the main category which was obtained from the biggest number of reduced expressions (f = 46). A notable association between general level and specialist level data was related to networking, since one of the general level categories was ‘Competence in consultations and networking’ (f = 34) and one of the specialist level categories was ‘Competence to offer consultative and educational support to other professionals’ (f = 30). Moreover, part of the specialist level results were subcategories which belonged to the main categories produced from the general level data.
Conclusions: The competencies described in this study emphasize decision-making, social interactions and networking. It is important to listen to the voices of the working-life representatives when planning curricula. Moreover, the views of the working-life representatives inform how the competencies gained during their education meet the challenges of the ordinary work.
Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.
CONTEXT: Symptom management is essential in the end of life care of long-term care facility residents.
OBJECTIVES: To study discrepancies and possible associated factors in staff and family carers' symptom assessment scores for residents in the last week of life.
METHODS: A post mortem survey in Belgium, the Netherlands and Finland: staff and family carers completed the "End-Of-Life in Dementia - Comfort Assessment in Dying" scale (EOLD-CAD), rating 14 symptoms on a 1 to 3-point scale. Higher scores reflect better comfort. We calculated mean paired differences in symptom, subscale and total scores at a group level and interrater agreement and percentage of perfect agreement at a resident level.
RESULTS: Mean staff scores significantly reflected better comfort than those of family carers for the total End-of-Life in Dementia—Comfort Assessment in Dying (31.61 vs. 29.81; P < 0.001) and the physical distress (8.64 vs. 7.62; P < 0.001) and dying symptoms (8.95 vs. 8.25; P < 0.001) subscales. No significant differences were found for emotional distress and well-being. The largest discrepancies were found for gurgling, discomfort, restlessness, and choking for which staff answered not at all, whereas the family carer answered a lot, in respectively, 9.5%, 7.3%, 6.7%, and 6.1% of cases. Inter-rater agreement ranged from 0.106 to 0.204, the extent of perfect agreement from 40.8 for lack of serenity to 68.7% for crying.
CONCLUSION: There is a need for improved communication between staff and family and discussion about symptom burden in the dying phase in long-term care facilities.
Background: Increased awareness of the clinical course of nursing home residents with advanced dementia and advance care planning (ACP) has become the cornerstone of good palliative care.
Objective: The aim of our study is to describe changes in ACP in the form of physician treatment orders (PTOs), symptom prevalence and possible burdensome interventions among nursing home (NH) residents who died between 2004–2009 and 2010–2013
Methods: Retrospective study
Results: The number of PTOs regarding forgoing antibiotics or parenteral antibiotics, forgoing artificial nutrition or hydration or forgoing hospitalisation doubled between 2004–2009 and 2010–2013 (38.1% vs. 64.9%, p < 0.001; 40.0% vs. 81.7%, p < 0.001; 28.1% vs. 69.5%, p < 0.001, respectively). PTOs were also done significantly earlier in 2010–2013 than in 2004–2009. The prevalence of distressing symptoms and possible burdensome interventions remained unchanged, although the prevalence of consistency with the PTOs was high.
Conclusion: Despite the increased number of PTOs, this had little effect on symptom prevalence and possible burdensome interventions experienced by NH residents in the last days of life.
Objectives: We aimed to investigate the occurrence rates of clinical events and their associations with comfort in dying nursing home residents with and without dementia.
Methods: Epidemiological after-death survey was performed in nationwide representative samples of 322 nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and England. Nursing staff reported clinical events and assessed comfort. The nursing staff or physician assessed the presence of dementia; severity was determined using two highly discriminatory staff-reported instruments.
Results: The sample comprised 401 residents with advanced dementia, 377 with other stages of dementia, and 419 without dementia (N = 1197). Across the three groups, pneumonia occurred in 24 to 27% of residents. Febrile episodes (unrelated to pneumonia) occurred in 39% of residents with advanced dementia, 34% in residents with other stages of dementia and 28% in residents without dementia (P = .03). Intake problems occurred in 74% of residents with advanced dementia, 55% in residents with other stages of dementia, and 48% in residents without dementia (P < .001). Overall, these three clinical events were inversely associated with comfort. Less comfort was observed in all resident groups who had pneumonia (advanced dementia, P = .04; other stages of dementia, P = .04; without dementia, P < .001). Among residents with intake problems, less comfort was observed only in those with other stages of dementia (P < .001) and without dementia (P = .003), while the presence and severity of dementia moderated this association (P = .03). Developing “other clinical events” was not associated with comfort.
Conclusions: Discomfort was observed in dying residents who developed major clinical events, especially pneumonia, which was not specific to advanced dementia. It is crucial to identify and address the clinical events potentially associated with discomfort in dying residents with and without dementia.
We do not know how much clinical physicians carrying out clinical trials in oncology and haematology struggle with ethical concerns. To our knowledge, no empirical research exists on these questions in a Nordic context. Therefore, this study aims to learn what kinds of ethical challenges physicians in Sweden, Denmark and Finland (n = 29) face when caring for patients in clinical trials; and what strategies, if any, they have developed to deal with them. The main findings were that clinical cancer trials pose ethical challenges related to autonomy issues, unreasonable hope for benefits and the therapeutic misconception. Nevertheless, some physicians expressed that struggling with such challenges was not of great concern. This conveys a culture of hope where health care professionals and patients uphold hope and mutually support belief in clinical trials. This culture being implicit, physicians need opportunities to deliberately reflect over the characteristics that should constitute this culture.
OBJECTIVE: To examine factors associated with perceived quality of communication with physicians by relatives of dying residents of long-term care facilities (LTCFs).
DESIGN: A cross-sectional retrospective study in a representative sample of LTCFs conducted in 2015. In each LTCF, deaths of residents during the 3 months before the researcher's visit were reported. Structured questionnaires were sent to the identified relatives of deceased residents.
SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: A total of 736 relatives of deceased residents in 210 LTCFs (in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland).
METHODS: The Family Perception of Physician-Family Communication scale (FPPFC) was used to assess the quality of end-of-life (EOL) communication with physicians as perceived by relatives. We applied multilevel linear regression models to find factors associated with the FPPFC score.
RESULTS: The quality of EOL communication with physicians was perceived by relatives as higher when the relative spent more than 14 hours with the resident in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.205; P = .044), and when the treating physician visited the resident at least 3 times in the last week of the resident's life (b = 0.286; P = .002) or provided the resident with palliative care (b = 0.223; P = .003). Relatives with higher emotional burden perceived the quality of EOL communication with physicians as lower (b = -0.060; P < .001). These results had been adjusted to countries and LTCF types with physicians employed on-site or off-site of the facility.
CONCLUSION: The quality of EOL communication with physicians, as perceived by relatives of dying LTCF residents, is associated with the number of physician visits and amount of time spent by the relative with the resident in the last week of the resident's life, and relatives' emotional burden.
IMPLICATIONS: LTCF managers should organize care for dying residents in a way that enables frequent interactions between physicians and relatives, and emotional support to relatives to improve their satisfaction with EOL communication.
BACKGROUND: In long-term care facilities often many care providers are involved, which could make it difficult to reach consensus in care. This may harm the relation between care providers and can complicate care. This study aimed to describe and compare in six European countries the degree of consensus among everyone involved in care decisions, from the perspective of relatives and care staff. Another aim was to assess which factors are associated with reporting that full consensus was reached, from the perspective of care staff and relatives.
METHODS: In Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland a random sample of representative long-term care facilities reported all deaths of residents in the previous three months (n = 1707). This study included residents about whom care staff (n = 1284) and relatives (n = 790) indicated in questionnaires the degree of consensus among all involved in the decision or care process. To account for clustering on facility level, Generalized Estimating Equations were conducted to analyse the degree of consensus across countries and factors associated with full consensus.
RESULTS: Relatives indicated full consensus in more than half of the residents in all countries (NL 57.9% - EN 68%), except in Finland (40.7%). Care staff reported full consensus in 59.5% of residents in Finland to 86.1% of residents in England. Relatives more likely reported full consensus when: the resident was more comfortable or talked about treatment preferences, a care provider explained what palliative care is, family-physician communication was well perceived, their relation to the resident was other than child (compared to spouse/partner) or if they lived in Poland or Belgium (compared to Finland). Care staff more often indicated full consensus when they rated a higher comfort level of the resident, or if they lived in Italy, the Netherland, Poland or England (compared to Finland).
CONCLUSIONS: In most countries the frequency of full consensus among all involved in care decisions was relatively high. Across countries care staff indicated full consensus more often and no consensus less often than relatives. Advance care planning, comfort and good communication between relatives and care professionals could play a role in achieving full consensus.
BACKGROUND: By 2030, 30% of the European population will be aged 60 or over and those aged 80 and above will be the fastest growing cohort. An increasing number of people will die at an advanced age with multiple chronic diseases. In Europe at present, between 12 and 38% of the oldest people die in a long-term care facility. The lack of nationally representative empirical data, either demographic or clinical, about people who die in long-term care facilities makes appropriate policy responses more difficult. Additionally, there is a lack of comparable cross-country data; the opportunity to compare and contrast data internationally would allow for a better understanding of both common issues and country-specific challenges and could help generate hypotheses about different options regarding policy, health care organization and provision. The objectives of this study are to describe the demographic, facility stay and clinical characteristics of residents dying in long-term care facilities and the differences between countries.
METHODS: Epidemiological study (2015) in a proportionally stratified random sample of 322 facilities in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and England. The final sample included 1384 deceased residents. The sampled facilities received a letter introducing the project and asking for voluntary participation. Facility manager, nursing staff member and treating physician completed structured questionnaires for all deaths in the preceding 3 months.
RESULTS: Of 1384 residents the average age at death ranged from 81 (Poland) to 87 (Belgium, England) (p < 0.001) and length of stay from 6 months (Poland, Italy) to 2 years (Belgium) (p < 0.05); 47% (the Netherlands) to 74% (Italy) had more than two morbidities and 60% (England) to 83% (Finland) dementia, with a significant difference between countries (p < 0.001). Italy and Poland had the highest percentages with poor functional and cognitive status 1 month before death (BANS-S score of 21.8 and 21.9 respectively). Clinical complications occurred often during the final month (51.9% England, 66.4% Finland and Poland).
CONCLUSIONS: The population dying in long-term care facilities is complex, displaying multiple diseases with cognitive and functional impairment and high levels of dementia. We recommend future policy should include integration of high-quality palliative and dementia care.
OBJECTIVES: Physicians' decision-making in end-of-life (EOL) care includes many medical, ethical and juridical aspects. We studied the changes of these decisions over time and factors influencing them.
METHODS: A postal survey including two hypothetical patient scenarios was sent to 1258 Finnish physicians in 2015 and to 1182 in 1999. The attitudes, values and background factors of the physicians were also enquired.
RESULTS: The response rate was 56%. The physicians' decisions to choose palliative approaches over active or intensive care increased from 1999 to 2015 when a terminally ill prostate cancer patient had probable iatrogenic gastrointestinal bleeding (53% vs 59%, p=0.014) and waited to meet his son (46% vs 60%, p<0.001) or a minister (53% vs 71%, p<0.001). Training in EOL care independently increased palliative approaches. Patient's benefit (96% vs 99%, p=0.001), ethical values (83% vs 93%, p<0.001) and patient's (68% vs 86%, p<0.001) or physician's (44% vs 63%, p<0.001) legal protection were considered more influential to the decisions in 2015, while the family's benefit was regarded as less influential to the decisions than it was in 1999 (37% vs 25%, p<0.001). Physicians were more willing to give a hospice voucher for an advanced breast cancer patient in 2015 (34% vs 58%, p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings may reflect the transition to a stronger emphasis on patient-centred care and a stronger tendency to avoid futile therapies that have only short-term goals. The results highlight that education in all aspects of EOL care should be incorporated into the post-graduate training of medical specialties that take care of dying patients.
OBJECTIVE: To examine how relatives evaluate the quality of communication with the treating physician of a dying resident in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) and to assess its differences between countries.
DESIGN: A cross-sectional retrospective study in a representative sample of LTCFs conducted in 2015. Relatives of residents who died during the previous 3 months were sent a questionnaire.
SETTINGS AND PARTICIPANTS: 761 relatives of deceased residents in 241 LTCFs in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.
METHODS: The Family Perception of Physician-Family Communication (FPPFC) scale (ratings from 0 to 3, where 3 means the highest quality) was used to retrospectively assess how the quality of end-of-life communication with treating physicians was perceived by relatives. We applied multilevel linear and logistic regression models to assess differences between countries and LTCF types.
RESULTS: The FPPFC score was the lowest in Finland (1.4 ± 0.8) and the highest in Italy (2.2 ± 0.7). In LTCFs served by general practitioners, the FPPFC score differed between countries, but did not in LTCFs with on-site physicians. Most relatives reported that they were well informed about a resident's general condition (from 50.8% in Finland to 90.6% in Italy) and felt listened to (from 53.1% in Finland to 84.9% in Italy) and understood by the physician (from 56.7% in Finland to 85.8% in Italy). In most countries, relatives assessed the worst communication as being about the resident's wishes for medical treatment at the end of life, with the lowest rate of satisfied relatives in Finland (37.6%).
CONCLUSION: The relatives' perception of the quality of end-of-life communication with physicians differs between countries. However, in all countries, physicians' communication needs to be improved, especially regarding resident's wishes for medical care at the end of life.
IMPLICATIONS: Training in end-of-life communication to physicians providing care for LTCF residents is recommended.
BACKGROUND: While the need for palliative care in long-term care facilities is growing, it is unknown whether palliative care in this setting is sufficiently developed.
AIM: To describe and compare in six European countries palliative care provision in long-term care facilities and to assess associations between patient, facility and advance care planning factors and receipt and timing of palliative care.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional after-death survey regarding care provided to long-term care residents in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Generalized estimating equations were used for analyses.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Nurses or care assistants who are most involved in care for the resident.
RESULTS: We included 1298 residents in 300 facilities, of whom a majority received palliative care in most countries (England: 72.6%-Belgium: 77.9%), except in Poland (14.0%) and Italy (32.1%). Palliative care typically started within 2 weeks before death and was often provided by the treating physician (England: 75%-the Netherlands: 98.8%). A palliative care specialist was frequently involved in Belgium and Poland (57.1% and 86.7%). Residents with cancer, dementia or a contact person in their record more often received palliative care, and it started earlier for residents with whom the nurse had spoken about treatments or the preferred course of care at the end of life.
CONCLUSION: The late initiation of palliative care (especially when advance care planning is lacking) and palliative care for residents without cancer, dementia or closely involved relatives deserve attention in all countries. Diversity in palliative care organization might be related to different levels of its development.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care is aimed at improving the quality of life of an individual with chronic noncommunicable disease and their care partners. Limitations in the provision of palliative care are mainly lack of knowledge and experience by nurses, fear of treating palliative persons, loss of control over treatment and fear of providing poor-quality palliative care to persons and care partners.
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the perception, knowledge and attitudes of palliative care by nurses who use palliative care approaches in practice, as well as the difference in perception, knowledge and attitudes of palliative care between nurses in Slovenia and Finland.
METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional descriptive study. The survey included 440 nurses in clinical environments in Slovenia and Finland with a completed bachelor, master or doctoral level of education.
RESULTS: We found statistically significant differences between both countries in the perception of palliative care. Differences between the two countries in the knowledge of palliative care were not confirmed. We confirmed statistically significant differences between both countries in the attitudes of palliative nursing care.
CONCLUSION: Early person-centred palliative care is an important part of the holistic and integrative treatment of a person who has a disease with disturbing symptoms. For such an approach, it is important to educate nurses about knowledge, expectations, values and beliefs in developing a concept of person-centred palliative care to improve quality of life. The better perception, knowledge and attitudes of palliative care by nurses may help persons to improve and raise their quality of life, as well as diminish stress in their care partners and improve quality of life.
BACKGROUND/AIM: Appropriate decision-making in end-of-life (EOL) care is essential for both junior and senior physicians. The aim of this study was to compare the decision-making and attitudes of medical students with those of experienced general practitioners (GP) regarding EOL-care.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A questionnaire presenting three cancer patient scenarios concerning decisions and ethical aspects of EOL-care was offered to 500 Finnish GPs and 639 graduating medical students in 2015-2016.
RESULTS: Responses were received from 222 (47%) GPs and 402 (63%) students. The GPs withdrew antibiotics (p<0.001) and nasogastric tubes (p=0.007) and withheld resuscitation (p<0.001), blood transfusions (p=0.002) and pleural drainage (p<0.001) more often than did the students. The students considered euthanasia and assisted suicide less reprehensible (p<0.001 in both) than did the GPs.
CONCLUSION: Medical students were more unwilling to withhold and withdraw therapies in EOL-care than were the GPs, but the students considered euthanasia less reprehensible. Medical education should include aspects of decision-making in EOL-care.
Background: An important part of palliative care is discussing preferences at end of life, however such conversations may not often occur. Care staff with greater self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication are probably more likely to have such discussions, however, there is a lack of research on self-efficacy towards end-of-life discussions among long-term care staff in Europe and related factors.
Objectives: Firstly, to describe and compare the self-efficacy level of long-term care staff regarding end-of-life communication across six countries; secondly, to analyse characteristics of staff and facilities which are associated to self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication.
Design: Cross-sectional survey.
Settings: Long-term care facilities in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland (n=290).
Participants: Nurses and care assistants (n=1680) completed a self-efficacy scale and were included in the analyses.
Methods: Care staff rated their self-efficacy (confidence in their own ability) on a scale of 0 (cannot do at all) to 7 -(certain can do) of the 8-item communication subscale of the Self-efficacy in End-of-Life Care survey. Staff characteristics included age, gender, professional role, education level, training in palliative care and years working in direct care. Facility characteristics included facility type and availability of palliative care guidelines, palliative care team and palliative care advice. Analyses were conducted using Generalized Estimating Equations, to account for clustering of data at facility level.
Results: The proportion of staff with a mean self-efficacy score >5 was highest in the Netherlands (76.4%), ranged between 55.9% and 60.0% in Belgium, Poland, England and Finland and was lowest in Italy (29.6%). Higher levels of self-efficacy (>5) were associated with: staff over 50 years of age (OR 1.86 95% CI[1.30-2.65]); nurses (compared to care assistants) (1.75 [1.20-2.54]); completion of higher secondary or tertiary education (respectively 2.22 [1.53-3.21] and 3.11 [2.05-4.71]; formal palliative care training (1.71 [1.32-2.21]); working in direct care for over 10 years (1.53 [1.14-2.05]); working in a facility with care provided by onsite nurses and care assistants and offsite physicians (1.86 [1.30-2.65]); and working in a facility where guidelines for palliative care were available (1.39 [1.03-1.88]).
Conclusion: Self-efficacy towards end-of-life communication was most often low in Italy and most often high in the Netherlands. In all countries, low self-efficacy was found relatively often for discussion of prognosis. Palliative care education and guidelines for palliative care could improve the self-efficacy of care staff.
BACKGROUND: Until recently, palliative care (PC) resources in Finland have been sparse. To meet the increasing need for PC an end-of-life (EOL) care project has been ongoing in South Western Finland since 2012, and in 2015, a weekday palliative outpatient clinic was established in Turku University Hospital (TUH). The aim of this study was to explore the effect of the project and the PC clinic on the management practices of EOL cancer patients attending the Emergency Department (ED) of TUH from 2013 to 2016.
METHODS: The medical records of all cancer patients (ICD-10 codes C00–97) admitted to the ED of TUH between August 1–December 31, in 2013 and 2016, were analyzed: n = 529, n = 432 respectively (2013 and 2016). The analysis focused on those patients in EOL care; n = 77, n = 63, respectively. The late palliative patients were defined by PC decision, thus termination of life-prolonging cancer-specific treatments. The EOL patients were in the imminently dying phase of their illness. The site of referral after an ED visit was also verified together with the documentation on advance care plans (ACP), and the impact of palliative outpatient visits.
RESULTS: In 2016, the number of late palliative and EOL patients admitted to the ED has shown a tendency to decrease. The quality of the documentation for treatment goals, do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders, living wills and connections to primary care providers has improved since 2013. Prior visits to palliative outpatient clinic correlated well with the more comprehensive ACP information: i) DNR order (p = 0.0001); ii) connection to primary care (p = 0.003); iii) documented ICD-10 code Z51.5 (p = 0.0001).
CONCLUSIONS: Even modest investments in resources for PC can induce an objective change in the allocation of health care resources, and improve the ACP for the cancer patients at their EOL. A visit to a palliative outpatient clinic may offer one approach for improving the quality and completion of ACP documentation.
Most studies that have examined whether a child's death influences parental relationship stability have used small-scale data sets and their results are inconclusive. A likely reason is that child loss affects not only the risk of parental separation, but also the risk of having another child. Hence parity progression and separation must be treated as two competing events in relation to child loss. The analysis in this paper used Finnish register data from 1971 to 2003, covering over 100,000 married couples whose durations of both first marriage and parenthood could be observed. We ran parity-specific Cox regressions in which process time started from the birth of each additional child. All marriages included women of childbearing age, none of whom had experienced any child death on entering the analysis. We find that child loss only modestly influences the divorce risk, whereas its effect on the risk of parity progression is considerable.
Objectives: To describe the relation between physician visits and physicians' recognition of a resident's terminal phase in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland.
Design: In each country, a cross-sectional study was conducted across representative samples of LTCFs. Participating LTCFs reported all deaths of residents in the previous 3 months, and structured questionnaires were sent to several proxy respondents including the treating physician.
Setting and Participants: 1094 residents in 239 LTCFs, about whom 505 physicians returned the questionnaire.
Measures: Number of physician visits, the resident's main treatment goal, whether physicians recognized the resident's terminal phase and expected the resident's death, and resident and physician characteristics.
Results: The number of physician visits to residents varied widely between countries, ranging from a median of 15 visits in the last 3 months of life in Poland to 5 in England, and from 4 visits in the last week of life in the Netherlands to 1 in England. Among all countries, physicians from Poland and Italy were least inclined to recognize that the resident was in the terminal phase (63.0% in Poland compared to 80.3% in the Netherlands), and residents in these countries had palliation as main treatment goal the least (31.8% in Italy compared to 92.6% in the Netherlands). Overall however, there were positive associations between the number of physician visits and the recognition of the resident's terminal phase and between the number of physician visits and the resident having palliation as main treatment goal in the last week of life.
Conclusions and Implications: This study suggests that LTCFs should be encouraged to work collaboratively with physicians to involve them as much as possible in caring for their residents. Joint working will facilitate the recognition of a resident's terminal phase and the timely provision of palliative care.
Background: Opioids, antipsychotics and hypnotics are recommended for comfort care in dying. We studied their prescription during the last 3 days in residents deceased in the long-term care facility (LTCF).
Methods: In a retrospective, cross-sectional survey in Belgium, England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland, LTCFs, selected by proportional stratified random sampling, reported all deaths over the previous 3 months. The nurse most involved in the residents' care reviewed the chart for opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription, cause of death and comorbidities. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to adjust for resident characteristics.
Results: Response rate was 81.6%. We included 1079 deceased residents in 322 LCTFs. Opioid prescription ranged from 18.5% (95% CI: 13.0-25.8) of residents in Poland to 77.9% (95% CI: 69.5-84.5) in the Netherlands, antipsychotic prescription from 4.8% (95% CI: 2.4-9.1) in Finland to 22.4% (95% CI: 14.7-32.4) in Italy, hypnotic prescription from 7.8% (95% CI: 4.6-12.8) in Finland to 47.9% (95% CI: 38.5-57.3) in the Netherlands. Differences in opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription between countries remained significant (P < 0.001) when controlling for age, gender, length of stay, cognitive status, cause of death in multilevel, multivariable analyses. Dying from cancer showed higher odds for receiving opioids (OR 3.51; P < 0.001) and hypnotics (OR 2.10; P = 0.010).
Conclusions: Opioid, antipsychotic and hypnotic prescription in the dying phase differed significantly between six European countries. Further research should determine the appropriateness of their prescription and refine guidelines especially for LTCF residents dying of non-cancer diseases.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes are among the most common places of death in many countries.
AIM: To determine the quality of dying and end-of-life care of nursing home residents in six European countries.
DESIGN: Epidemiological survey in a proportionally stratified random sample of nursing homes. We identified all deaths of residents of the preceding 3-month period.
MAIN OUTCOMES: quality of dying in the last week of life (measured using End-of-Life in Dementia Scales - Comfort Assessment while Dying (EOLD-CAD)); quality of end-of-life care in the last month of life (measured using Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care (QoD-LTC) scale). Higher scores indicate better quality.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Three hundred and twenty-two nursing homes in Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and England. Participants were staff (nurses or care assistants) most involved in each resident's care.
RESULTS: Staff returned questionnaires regarding 1384 (81.6%) of 1696 deceased residents. The End-of-Life in Dementia Scales – Comfort Assessment while Dying mean score (95% confidence interval) (theoretical 14–42) ranged from 29.9 (27.6; 32.2) in Italy to 33.9 (31.5; 36.3) in England. The Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care mean score (95% confidence interval) (theoretical 11–55) ranged from 35.0 (31.8; 38.3) in Italy to 44.1 (40.7; 47.4) in England. A higher End-of-Life in Dementia Scales – Comfort Assessment while Dying score was associated with country (p = 0.027), older age (p = 0.012), length of stay 1 year (p = 0.034), higher functional status (p < 0.001). A higher Quality of Dying in Long-Term Care score was associated with country (p < 0.001), older age (p < 0.001), length of stay 1 year (p < 0.001), higher functional status (p = 0.002), absence of dementia (p = 0.001), death in nursing home (p = 0.033).
CONCLUSION: The quality of dying and quality of end-of-life care in nursing homes in the countries studied are not optimal. This includes countries with high levels of palliative care development in nursing homes such as Belgium, the Netherlands and England.