BACKGROUND: Structured advance care planning (ACP) program is an important service in the end-of-life care for patients with advanced medical illness. We pioneered a structured and coordinated ACP program for patients with advanced malignancies and end-stage organ failure in Hong Kong. This study investigated the impact of a structured ACP program on the concordance rate for patients' final wishes, patient/family satisfaction, and the number of acute admissions (AA) and length of stay (LOS) in hospital.
METHODS: Patients with advanced malignancy or end-stage organ failure who were able to complete ACP forms during the current admission to medical units were recruited. Patients who could not complete ACP forms or <18 years of age were excluded. The ACP program comprised the following components: (I) baseline education (workshop/role play) in ACP sessions for linked nurses of different medical units; (II) structured ACP discussions with recruited patients and their proxies during admission, after any change in clinical status, and also at monthly intervals; (III) formal structured review of patients' goals at regular team meetings; (IV) "flagging" of advance directive (AD) in hospital computer system and (V) feedback to linked nurse on the congruence of care. Mentally competent patients who did not receive ACP and matched for disease and demographics were selected as controls in a 1:2.5 ratio.
RESULTS: Two hundred forty-three patients were included for analysis between August 2016 and July 2017, of which 69 patients joined the ACP program and 174 of them did not. Two hundred and one patients (83%) had advanced cancer. All had done do-not-attempt-cardiopulmonary-resuscitation (DNACPR) order in the ACP group. The concordance rates for patients' wishes on quality of life, end-of-life and funeral arrangements were 95%, 100% and 100% respectively. Over 70% of patients and their families (N=10) showed satisfaction with the program. The ACP group also had lower mean AA and shorter LOS (0.78±0.23 vs. 1.2±0.8 episode/patient, 4.6±1.7 vs. 7.5±2.5 days, P=0.037 and P=0.023 respectively) in the last 3 months of life compared with the non-ACP group.
CONCLUSIONS: This ACP program achieved high concordance rate for patients' wish items and reduced healthcare utilization.
AIM: To examine whether nurses' location of employment, demographics, or training influences their perceptions of what constitutes optimal care for dying patients in hospital.
DESIGN: Questionnaire-based, cross-sectional study.
METHODS: Between December 2016-June 2018, 582 registered or enrolled nurses from Australia (N = 153), South Korea (N = 241), and Hong Kong (N = 188) employed in a variety of hospital care units rated the extent to which they agreed with 29 indicators of optimal end-of-life care across four domains: patient, family, healthcare team, and healthcare system. Latent class analysis identified classes of respondents with similar responses.
RESULTS: Top five indicators rated by participants included: 'physical symptoms managed well'; 'private rooms and unlimited visiting hours'; 'spend as much time with the patient as families wish'; 'end-of-life care documents stored well and easily accessed' and 'families know and follow patient's wishes'. Four latent classes were generated: 'Whole system/holistic' (Class 1); 'Patient/provider-dominated' (Class 2); 'Family-dominated' (Class 3) and 'System-dominated' (Class 4). Class 1 had the highest proportion of nurses responding positively for all indicators. Location was an important correlate of perceptions, even after controlling for individual characteristics.
CONCLUSION: Nurses' perceptions of optimal end-of-life care are associated with location, but perhaps not in the direction that stereotypes would suggest. Findings highlight the importance of developing and implementing location-specific approaches to optimize end-of-life care in hospitals.
IMPACT: The findings may be useful to guide education and policy initiatives in Asian and Western countries that stress that end-of-life care is more than symptom management. Indicators can be used to collect data that help quantify differences between optimal care and the care actually being delivered, thereby determining where improvements might be made.
Few studies have explored the inter-relationships of sources of social support and caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life among patients with palliative care needs and their caregivers. This study tested the associations of two sources of social support (family and friends) and the mediating role of caregiving self-efficacy on caregiver burden and patient's quality of life. A convenience sample of 225 patient-caregiver dyads recruited between September 2016 and May 2017 from three hospitals in Hong Kong was included in the current analysis. Results showed that the final model provided a satisfactory fit (SRMR = 0.070, R-RMSEA = 0.055 and R-CFI = 0.926) with the data, as good as the hypothesized model did (p = 0.326). Significant associations were detected. Family support had a significant negative indirect effect on caregiver burden and a significant positive indirect effect on patient's quality of life through caregiving self-efficacy, whereas friend support had a significant positive direct effect on caregiver burden but a minimal effect, if any, on patient's quality of life. These findings emphasized (1) the importance of caregiving self-efficacy in improving caregiver burden and patient's quality of life and that (2) sources of social support may be an important dimension moderating the associations of caregiving self-efficacy with caregiver burden and patient's quality of life.
Ageing has been recognized as one of the most critically important health-care issues worldwide. It is relevant to Asia, where the increasing number of older populations has drawn attention to the paramount need for health-care investment, particularly in end-of-life care. The advocacy of advance care planning is a mean to honor patient autonomy. Since most East Asian countries are influenced by Confucianism and the concept of 'filial piety,' patient autonomy is consequently subordinate to family values and physician authority. The dominance from family members and physicians during a patient's end-of-life decision-making is recognized as a cultural feature in Asia. Physicians often disclose the patient's poor prognosis and corresponding treatment options to the male, family member rather to the patient him/herself. In order to address this ethical and practical dilemma, the concept of 'relational autonomy' and the collectivism paradigm might be ideally used to assist Asian people, especially older adults, to share their preferences on future care and decision-making on certain clinical situations with their families and important others. In this review article, we invited experts in end-of-life care from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan to briefly report the current status of advance care planning in each country from policy, legal and clinical perspectives. According to the Asian experiences, we have seen different models of advance care planning implementation. The Asian Delphi Taskforce for advance care planning is currently undertaken by six Asian countries and a more detailed, culturally sensitive whitepaper will be published in the near future.
Objective: This study aimed to develop an assessment tool measuring comprehensive interdisciplinary competence in end-of-life care (EoLC) and investigate its content, construct validity, reliability, and their correlates.
Method: Items of the Comprehensive End-of-Life Care Competence Scale (CECCS) were developed according to a comprehensive core competence framework in EoLC and refined by a multi-disciplinary panel of experts. The psychometric properties were further tested through region-wide surveys of self-administered questionnaires completed by health and social care professionals in Hong Kong.
Results: Participants comprised social workers, nurses, physicians, and allied health care professionals (445 participants in 2016, 410 in 2017, and 523 in 2018). Factor analysis validated the construct of the questionnaire which encompassed 26 items describing EoLC core competences in seven domains with satisfactory internal reliability (confirmatory factor analysis: 2/df = 3.12, GFI = 0.85, TLI = 0.93, CFI = 0.94, RMSEA = 0.07; Cronbach's alphas ranged from 0.89 to 0.97): overarching value & knowledge, communication skills, symptom management, psychosocial and community care, end-of-life decision-making, bereavement care, and self-care. Higher perceived levels in these competences were correlated with a higher level of job meaningfulness and satisfaction (r ranged from 0.17 to 0.39, p < 0.01) and correlated with lower perceived stress (r ranged from –0.11 to –0.28, p < 0.05). Regression analysis found that age and work involvement in EoLC were positively associated with the perceived competences in all domains; professionals working in hospices reported higher levels of competence than workers in other settings; social workers showed lower perceived competences in symptom management, but higher levels in bereavement care than other health care professionals.
Significance of results: The validity and internal reliability of CECCS were demonstrated. The levels of perceived competences working in EoLC were significantly associated with professionals’ job-related well-being. Practically, there is still room for improvement in comprehensive competences among health and social care workers in Hong Kong.
End-of-life (EOL) care for terminal illness and life-limiting conditions is a sector in the health service spectrum that is drawing increased attention. Despite having the world's longest life expectancy and an ever-escalating demand for long-term care, Hong Kong's EOL care was underdeveloped. The current study aims to provide a holistic picture of gaps and issues to EOL care in Hong Kong. Data collection was conducted using a multi-method qualitative approach that included focus groups and in-depth interviews with key informants and stakeholders, and longitudinal case studies with patients and families. Deductive thematic analysis was used to examine service gaps in current EOL care through the lens of a socioecological model where gaps and issues in various nested, hierarchical levels of care as well as the relationships between these levels were studied in detail. Using the model, we identified gaps and issues of EOL care among older populations in Hong Kong at the policy, legal, community, institutional, as well as intrapersonal and interpersonal levels. These include but are not limited to a lack of overarching EOL care policy framework, ambiguity in the legal basis for mental incapacity, legislative barriers for advance directives, inadequate capacity, resources, and support in the community to administer EOL care, inadequate knowledge, training, and resources for EOL care in health and social care sectors, inadequate medical-social interface, general reluctance and fear of death and dying, as well as the cultural interpretation of filial piety that may lengthen the suffering of the dying patients. Findings highlight the multi-level gaps and issues of EOL care in a place where western and eastern culture meet, and shed light on how best to design more effective and comprehensive policy interventions that will likely have a more sustainable and instrumental impact on facilitating person-centered EOL care during the end of life.
Objectives: Existing evidence supports the use of certain Chinese medicine (CM) interventions for symptom management among palliative cancer patients. However, evidence-based service recommendations tailored to the local context are needed for CM planning and implementation. In response, we aimed to establish consensus on CM clinical service recommendations for cancer palliative care among Hong Kong experts. Methods: Seven CM interventions showing statistically significant favorable results in existing systematic reviews (SRs) and overviews of SRs were subjected to a GRADE-ADOLOPMENT-based 2-round Delphi survey. Twelve Hong Kong experts in cancer palliative care, including conventionally trained physicians, CM practitioners, and nurses (n = 4 from each category), were invited to participate. Use of the Evidence to Decision framework within the GRADE-ADOLOPMENT approach enabled experts to consider aspects of problem priority, benefits, harms, equity, acceptability, and feasibility when making CM recommendations in cancer palliative care.
Results: Three evidence-based CM interventions reached positive consensus as service recommendations, namely: (1) acupuncture for reducing fatigue among palliative cancer patients; (2) acupressure for reducing fatigue among palliative cancer patients; and (3) moxibustion for reducing nausea and vomiting among patients receiving chemotherapy. Median rating of recommendation ranged from 2.5 to 3.0 (interquartile range = 0.00-1.00) on a 4-point Likert-type scale, and the percentage agreement ranged from 83.4% to 91.7%.
Conclusions: The GRADE-ADOLOPMENT approach facilitates a consensus-based process of reaching 3 evidence-based CM recommendations for cancer palliative care. Future studies may develop tailored strategies to implement these recommendations in the Hong Kong health system.
While the strict regulations in hospital in Hong Kong effectively controlled the
outbreaks of COVID-19, they caused challenges in the care of our hospitalized cancer patients. Four clinical cases based on true encounter during the COVID-19 period with mitigations were summarised. These four cases reflected the unanticipated impacts of the extreme measures and
highlighted the deficiencies of our existing system. The pandemics offered us opportunities to explore new ways to improve our cancer care, especially concerning the psychological support to both patients and caretakers.
Background: Advance care planning (ACP) facilitates identification and documentation of patients’ treatment preferences. Its goal aligns with that of palliative care – optimizing quality of life of seriously ill patients. However, concepts of ACP and palliative care remain poorly recognized in Chinese population. This study aims at exploring barriers to ACP from perspective of seriously ill patients and their family caregivers.
Methods: This is a qualitative study conducted in a Palliative Day Care Centre of Hong Kong between October 2016 and July 2017. We carried out focus groups and individual interviews for the seriously ill patients and their family caregivers. A semi-structured interview guide was used to explore participants’ experiences and attitudes about ACP. Qualitative content analysis was adopted to analyze both manifest content and latent content.
Results: A total of 17 patients and 13 family caregivers participated in our study. The qualitative analysis identified four barriers to ACP: 1) limited patients’ participation in autonomous decision making, 2) cognitive and emotional barriers to discussion, 3) lack of readiness and awareness of early discussion, and 4) unprepared healthcare professionals and healthcare system.
Conclusions: Participations of seriously ill patients, family caregivers and healthcare workers in ACP initiation are lacking respectively. A series of interventions are necessary to resolve the barriers.
BACKGROUND: Achieving the preference of place of care and place of death of patients is a quality marker in palliative care. From a recent study, around 30% of the Hong Kong general population wished to die at home. In our study, residential care home for the elderly (RCHE) was also considered as home. The objective of this study was to investigate the preference of place of care and place of death of terminal cancer patients who received palliative care service in Hong Kong. We would also investigate the facilitating and obstructing factors for home death. Common factors associating with the preference of home death would also be examined.
METHODS: A hospital-based cross-sectional questionnaire survey was conducted in a local palliative care unit from 3 December 2018 to 10 January 2019. Univariate analysis was performed to evaluate factors associated with the preference of home death.
RESULTS: Total 72 patients were recruited. Overall, 22 (30.6%) patients wished to die at home ideally. After concerning reality and different choices, only 13 (18.1%) patients preferred home death. The most common chosen facilitating factor for home death was to provide support to carers (12 patients, 92.3%). Five patients (38.5%) chose it as the most significant facilitating factor for home death. It was inconclusive for the most common chosen and most significant obstructing factor for home death. There were no statistically significant factors found to be associated with the preference of home death.
CONCLUSIONS: The preference of home death of terminal cancer patients in Hong Kong is low. We hope that understanding more of the obstructing and relieving factors for home death can facilitate home death in the future.
A global report found that the quality of dying in Hong Kong lagged behind that of other high-income economies. This study aims to examine the service gaps by conducting a qualitative exploratory study from multiple stakeholders' perspectives. Purposive and snowball sampling strategies were used to maximize variation in the sample. We interviewed 131 participants, including patients, family members, health care providers, administrators, lawyers, and policy makers. The situation analysis helped identify the facilitators and barriers at individual, organizational, and socio-cultural levels that affect service development. Findings showed that awareness on palliative and end-of-life care is growing, but the existing care is limited in terms of acceptability, coverage, variation in practices, continuity, and sustainability. A number of policy, economic, socio-cultural, environmental, and legal factors were also found to hinder service development. Findings of this study demonstrated that the development of palliative and end-of-life care services involved a paradigm shift relating to society as a whole. The overarching theme is to formulate a government-led policy framework. Furthermore, a public health approach has been advocated to create a supportive environment for service development.
The current study examined Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) experienced by bereaved pet owners in the United States, French-Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong following the death of their pet. Using qualitative methodology, we analyzed responses of participants who answered “yes” to a question about experiencing PTG and explored to what extent the cross-cultural responses mapped onto the five factors of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI). For the U.S. sample, 58% of responses mapped onto the PTGI. For French-Canada, 72% of responses mapped onto the PTGI. For Japan, 50% of responses mapped onto the PTGI and for Hong Kong, 39% of responses mapped onto the PTGI. We also explored emergent categories related to PTG for individuals who have lost a pet and discerned the unique aspects for PTG across cultures.
Death metaphors are a meaningful way to understand personal perceptions of death, an important construct affecting how people live. This study collected death metaphor data among 100 university students in Hong Kong in 2016 and compared the findings with another study reported in 2004. Interpersonally oriented death metaphors were still popular among students a decade later. There was a general decrease in positive perception of death and an increase in negative perception of death from 2004 to 2016. Death metaphors are useful tools in death education programs, especially in cultures where death is a taboo topic.
Cultural competence, a clinical skill to recognise patients' cultural and religious beliefs, is an integral element in patient-centred medical practice. In the area of death and dying, physicians' understanding of patients' and families' values is essential for the delivery of culturally appropriate care. Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition marked by the decline of cognitive functions. When the condition progresses and deteriorates, patients with advanced dementia often have eating and swallowing problems and are at high risk of developing malnutrition. Enteral tube feeding is a conventional means of providing artificial nutrition and hydration to meet nutritional needs, but its benefits to the frail population are limitedly shown in the clinical evidence. Forgoing tube feeding is ethically challenging when patients are mentally incompetent and in the absence of an advance directive. Unlike some developed countries, like the United States of America, death and dying is a sensitive issue or even a taboo in some cultures in developing countries that forgoing enteral tube feeding is clinically and ethically challenging, such as China and Malaysia. This article in three parts 1) discusses the clinical and ethical issues related to forgoing tube feeding among patients with advanced dementia, 2) describes how Hong Kong Chinese, North American, and Malaysian Islamic cultures respond differently in the decision-making patterns of forgoing tube feeding for patients with advanced dementia, and 3) reiterates the clinical implications of cultural competence in end-of-life care.
Cancer is the most common cause of mortality worldwide. Although recent advances of multiple modality cancer management have significantly improved the cure and control rates, a significant proportion of patients are still refractory to the standard and available treatments. Early initiation of palliative care can reduce cancer suffering, improve health-related quality of life and possibly prolong survival. It also allows patients and their caretakers to perceive the trajectory of their cancer, so that better and advanced care planning can be contemplated and implemented. The traditional beliefs and perceptions of cancer also differ significantly between the East and the West, which may also affect the preferential approach to palliative care. This review provides an overview of palliative care services in Hong Kong, as compared with other parts of the world. In addition, we shall also explore how cancer perceptions affect the decision-making on palliative care.
Introduction: The perceptions of medical futility and decisions about termination of resuscitation (TOR) for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) are highly heterogeneous and dependent on the practice of the attending emergency physicians. The objective of this study was to report and investigate the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding medical futility and TOR during management of OHCA in Hong Kong.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among emergency medicine physicians in Hong Kong. The questionnaire assessed participants’ background, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours concerning medical futility and TOR in management of OHCA. Composite scores were calculated to reflect knowledge, attitudes, and practices of OHCA treatment. Subgroup analysis and multiple regression analysis were used to explore the relationship between participants’ background, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviours.
Results: The response rate to this survey was 57% (140/247). Independent predictors of less aggressive resuscitation in OHCA patients included status as a Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine (ß= -0.314, P=0.028) and being an Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor (ß= -0.217, P=0.032). There was no difference in aggressiveness of resuscitation in terms of years of clinical experience (ß=0.015, P=0.921), knowledge of TOR (ß=0.057, P=0.509), or attitudes about TOR (ß= -0.103, P=0.214). The correlation between knowledge and attitudes was low (Spearman’s coefficient=0.02, P=0.795).
Conclusion: Clinical practice and behaviour of TOR was not demonstrated to have associations with knowledge or attitude. Status as a Fellow of the Hong Kong College of Emergency Medicine or Advanced Cardiac Life Support instructor were the only two parameters identified that had significant relationships with earlier TOR in medically futile patients with OHCA.
Relatively little is known about the experiences of Chinese widows, especially those living outside China. This qualitative study examines the experiences of eight Chinese or Hong Kong-born widows living in the UK. Using a semistructured approach to interviewing, participants were asked about their lives before, during, and after their spousal bereavement. Five major themes emerged: (1) complexity of marital lives; (2) experiences around the time of the death including fate; (3) loneliness and isolation; (4) the challenges of practical tasks; and finally, (5) current life. The implications of the findings for social policy and practice are briefly discussed.
AIMS: To develop a culturally relevant conceptual map to discover perceptions of a statutory form of advance directive for Hong Kong Chinese.
DESIGN: This was the first study on advance directive using a concept mapping approach with two phases.
METHODS: The data collection of the two phases were conducted from February 2016 - February 2017. In Phase I, 96 participants were recruited using purposive sampling. In Phase II, multi-dimensional scaling and hierarchical cluster analysis were used to create a concept map based on quantitative data.
RESULTS: The map depicted six clusters of factors affecting the acceptance of advance directive, with their importance rating in decreasing order: Conditional factor, value system, process of AD, physical and illness factor, personal situation factor and socio-cultural factor.
CONCLUSION: The study adopted a comprehensive approach to unfolding the multi-faceted factors affecting the acceptance of advance directives by stakeholders. Strategies targeting the clusters could be developed to facilitate the discussion and completion of advance directive.
It is common for patients with cancers in Hong Kong seeking Chinese Medicine (CM) therapies as supportive care during cancer treatment and to manage treatment-related side effects. This article provides clinical practice guideline (CPG) on the use of CM for specific clinical indications caused by cancer and during cancer treatment, including pain, constipation, and insomnia, and aims to guide local licensed CM practitioners and provide beneficial reference for social medical decision makers and patients. In this manuscript, we summarize the clinical manifestation, CM pattern classification, and CM intervention including herbal treatment, acupuncture treatment, regulating, and nursing based on pattern differentiation.
Advance directives (AD) can be used for the communication of healthcare decisions that may be required in the future when individuals have lost their capacity to make such decisions. The aim of this study is to examine the prevalence, perception, and predictors of AD completion in the Hong Kong general population with a diverse culture. Through random-digit dialing, a population-based telephone survey was conducted with participants aged 18 or above. Socio-demographic characteristics, self-perception and health status, prevalence of AD, and perceptions related to AD were assessed. The acceptance on completing AD was measured by the summed score on the level of agreement in making AD. In total, 2002 participants completed the survey, with only 0.5% having made AD. However, the majority of those who had heard about AD had made or intended to make AD (80.2%). Multivariable regression analysis showed that being religious, being optimistic, and agreeing to respect patients' wishes are independently associated with higher AD acceptance. Being a student is associated with lower AD acceptance. The extremely low completion rate of AD, but high acceptance of AD urges for more active promotion of AD to the public and education on end-of-life care among university students.