Background: Service provision is a key domain to assess national-level palliative care development. Three editions of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) Atlas of Palliative Care monitored the changes in service provision across Europe since 2005.
Aim: To study European trends of specialized service provision at home care teams, hospital support teams, and inpatient palliative care services between 2005 and 2019.
Design: Secondary analysis was conducted drawing from databases on the number of specialized services in 2005, 2012, and 2019. Ratios of services per 100,000 inhabitants and increase rates on number of services for three periods were calculated. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) analyses were conducted to determine significant changes and chi-square to identify countries accounting for the variance. Income-level and sub-regional ANOVA analysis were undertaken.
Setting: 51 countries.
Results: Forty-two countries (82%) increased the number of specialized services between 2005 and 2019 with changes for home care teams (104% increase-rate), inpatient services (82%), and hospital support teams (48%). High-income countries showed significant increase in all types of services (p < 0.001), while low-to-middle-income countries showed significant increase only for inpatient services. Central–Eastern European countries showed significant improvement in home care teams and inpatient services, while Western countries showed significant improvement in hospital support and home care teams. Home care was the most prominent service in Western Europe.
Conclusion: Specialized service provision increased throughout Europe, yet ratios per 100,000 inhabitants fell below the EAPC recommendations. Western Europe ratios’ achieved half of the suggested services, while Central–Eastern countries achieved only a fourth. High-income countries and Western European countries account for the major increase. Central–Eastern Europe and low-to-middle-income countries reported little increase on specialized service provision.
Background: General practitioners (GPs) and general practice nurses (GPNs) face increasing demands to provide palliative care (PC) or end-of-life care (EoLC) as the population ages. To enhance primary EoLC, the facilitators and barriers to their provision need to be understood.
Objective: To provide a comprehensive description of the facilitators and barriers to GP and GPN provision of PC or EoLC.
Method: Systematic literature review. Data included papers (2000 to 2017) sought from Medline, PsycInfo, Embase, Joanna Briggs Institute and Cochrane databases.
Results: From 6209 journal articles, 62 reviewed papers reported the GP’s and GPN’s role in EoLC or PC practice. Six themes emerged: patient factors; personal GP factors; general practice factors; relational factors; co-ordination of care; availability of services. Four specific settings were identified: aged care facilities, out-of-hours care and resource-constrained settings (rural, and low-income and middle-income countries). Most GPs provide EoLC to some extent, with greater professional experience leading to increased comfort in performing this form of care. The organisation of primary care at practice, local and national level impose numerous structural barriers that impede more significant involvement. There are potential gaps in service provision where GPNs may provide significant input, but there is a paucity of studies describing GPN routine involvement in EoLC.
Conclusions: While primary care practitioners have a natural role to play in EoLC, significant barriers exist to improved GP and GPN involvement in PC. More work is required on the role of GPNs.
Background: Ohana Health Plan, Inc., (OHP) is one of the first managed care organizations offering supportive care services targeted to superutilizers. Bristol Hospice Hawaii, LLC, partnered with OHP to provide interdisciplinary supportive care services to home-bound OHP members.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to measure symptom relief, satisfaction, resource utilization, and cost savings associated with supportive care.
Design: Prospective study.
Setting: Over 12 months, 27 superutilizer members residing in the community were referred by OHP, 21 members were enrolled into supportive care.
Measurements: Data were collected upon admission and repeatedly thereafter using the Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the Missoula–Vitas Quality of Life Index (MVQOLI). The Family Satisfaction with Advanced Cancer Care (FAMCARE) Scale was administered at discharge. Emergency department (ED) visits and hospital utilization were tracked.
Results: Median age was 63 years; more than half had cardiac diagnoses. Majority of members were Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander. Median length of stay in supportive care was 90 days. Five (23%) members enrolled in hospice following supportive care. Symptom improvement occurred in pain (p < 0.0001), anxiety (p = 0.0052), and shortness of breath (p = 0.0447). This model has shown a 79.5% reduction of ED visits per thousand members and a 75% reduction of hospitalizations per thousand. Overall net savings was 36%. Discussions and documentation of end-of-life wishes increased from 23% to 85%.
Conclusion: Supportive care is highly effective in reducing costs associated with superutilizers. Our experience demonstrates the effectiveness of supportive care approaches in this population through improved care and lower health care costs overall.
Objectives: This study aimed to identify gaps in palliative care (PC) provision across the National Cancer Grid (NCG) centres in India.
Methods: We performed a cross-sectional validated web-based survey on 102 NCG cancer centres (Nov ’17 to April ’18). The survey questionnaire had seven sections collecting data relating to the capacity to provide cancer care and PC, drug availability for pain and symptom control, education, advocacy, and quality assurance activities for PC.
Results: Eighty-nine NCG centres responded for this study—72.5% of centres had doctors with generalist PC training, whereas 34.1% of centres had full-time PC physicians; 53.8% had nurses with 6 weeks of PC training; 68.1% of the centres have an outpatient PC and 66.3% have the facility to provide inpatient PC; 38.5% of centres offer home-based PC services; 44% of the centres make a hospice referral and 68.1% of the centres offer concurrent cancer therapy alongside PC. Among the centres, 84.3% have a licence to procure, store and dispense opioids, but only 77.5% have an uninterrupted supply of oral morphine for patients; 61.5% centres have no dedicated funds for PC, 23.1% centres have no support from hospital administration, staff shortage—69.2% have no social workers, 60.4% have no counsellors and 76.9% have no volunteers. Although end-of-life care is recognised, there is a lack of institutional policy. Very few centres take part in quality control measures.
Conclusions: The majority of the NCG centres have the facilities to provide PC but suffer from poor implementation of existing policies, funding and human resources.
Background: Emergency departments are seeing an increase in acute exacerbations of chronic disease in the older-adult population. The delivery of palliative care in the emergency department can increase goal-concordant care at the end-of-life for this population. New interventions in palliative care for emergency medicine require large, pragmatic, complex health interventions due to the heterogeneous and dynamic environment of emergency departments. These complex interventions must balance fidelity with adaptability, while being rooted in theory, to produce an intervention that can be applied in a variety of contexts.
Methods: Primary Palliative Care for Emergency Medicine (PRIM-ER) is a large, pragmatic, complex health intervention. This paper outlines the conceptual theory-based design as well as the study form and functions of PRIM-ER to exemplify how this complex intervention has balanced fidelity with adaptability.
Results: A form and function matrix was created to highlight the key objectives and tailored intervention components of PRIM-ER. Each intervention component was also linked to one or more elements of the Theory of Planned Behavior to support provider behavior change and the delivery of palliative care services and referrals.
Conclusion: The application of theory and delineation of forms and functions, as well prospective adaptation monitoring of large complex interventions can support the balance of fidelity with adaptability to encourage successful interventions among a variety of clinical environments.
The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to surpass the healthcare system’s capacity to provide intensive care to all patients who deteriorate as a result of the disease. This poses a unique challenge to healthcare teams of rationing care during pandemic when resources are scarce. Healthcare providers will need to acquire new skills in care decision making and effective symptom control for patients who do not receive life-saving measures. In this review, we describe some of the important palliative care considerations that need to be incorporated into COVID-19 pandemic planning. The main aspects to be considered include decision algorithms for rationing care, training on effective symptoms management, alternative delivery methods of palliative care services such as telemedicine and finally death and bereavement support for surviving family members who are likely to be isolated from their loved one at the moment of death.
OBJECTIVE: To explore the trends and utilization of palliative care (PC) service among inpatients with metastatic bladder cancer (MBC).
METHODS: A retrospective, cross-sectional analysis was performed using data from the 2003 to 2014 National Inpatient Sample. Palliative care was identified through International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code V66.7. Demographics, comorbidities, hospital characteristics, tumor-related, and treatment-related factors were compared between patients with and without PC. Multivariable logistic regression was used to explore predictors of PC use.
RESULTS: Among 131 852 patients with MBC, 13 224 (10.03%) received PC. Rate of PC increased from 2.49% in 2003 to 28.39% in 2014 (P < .0001). Similarly, rate of PC in decedents increased from 7.02% in 2003 to 54.86% in 2014 (P < .0001). Patients receiving PC were older, tendered to be white, had more comorbidities, and higher all-patient refined diagnosis-related group mortality risk. Predictors of PC included age (odds ratio [OR]: 1.02; 95% CI: 1.01-1.02; P < .0001), Medicaid (OR: 1.87; 95%.CI: 1.54-2.26; P < .0001), and private (OR: 1.61; 95% CI: 1.40-1.84; P < .0001) insurance, hospitals in the West (OR: 1.33; 95% CI: 1.10-1.61; P = .0032), and Mid-west (OR: 1.46; 95% CI: 1.22-1.75; P = .0032), major (OR: 1.32; 95% CI: 1.11-1.49; P < .0001), and extreme (OR: 2.37; 95% CI: 2.04-2.76; P < .0001) mortality risk. Chemotherapy and mechanical ventilation were related with lower odds of PC use. Palliative care predictors in the decedents were similar to those in overall patients with bladder cancer.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care encounter in MBC shows an increasing trend. However, it still remains very low. Disparities in PC use covered age, insurance, and hospital characteristics among metastatic bladder cancer in the United States.
Objective: To examine perceptions of facilitators and barriers to quality measurement and improvement in palliative care programs and differences by professional and leadership roles.
Methods: We surveyed team members in diverse US and Canadian palliative care programs using a validated survey addressing teamwork and communication and constructs for educational support and training, leadership, infrastructure, and prioritization for quality measurement and improvement. We defined key facilitators as constructs rated =4 (agree) and key barriers as those =3 (disagree) on 1 to 5 scales. We conducted multivariable linear regressions for associations between key facilitators and barriers and (1) professional and (2) leadership roles, controlling for key program and respondent factors and clustering by program.
Results: We surveyed 103 respondents in 11 programs; 45.6% were physicians and 50% had leadership roles. Key facilitators across sites included teamwork, communication, the implementation climate (or environment), and program focus on quality improvement. Key barriers included educational support and incentives, particularly for quality measurement, and quality improvement infrastructure such as strategies, systems, and skilled staff. In multivariable analyses, perceptions did not differ by leadership role, but physicians and nurse practitioners/nurses/physician assistants rated most constructs statistically significantly more negatively than other team members, especially for quality improvement (6 of the 7 key constructs).
Conclusions: Although participants rated quality improvement focus and environment highly, key barriers included lack of infrastructure, especially for quality measurement. Building on these facilitators and measuring and addressing these barriers might help programs enhance palliative care quality initiatives’ acceptability, particularly for physicians and nurses.
CONTEXT: Pediatric palliative care (PPC) can improve quality of life for children with life-threatening conditions and their families. However, PPC resources vary by state and within a state, PPC resources and personnel are often inequitably distributed towards urban areas with major hospital systems. A community needs assessment (CNA) that evaluates the current status of PPC and pediatric hospice care can help identify gaps and opportunities to improve PPC access.
OBJECTIVES: A CNA was performed in the state of Georgia to explore the scope and gaps of PPC and hospice services and plan for what is needed to grow PPC and hospice services.
METHODS: The CNA utilized a mixed-methods approach, including a community profile, literature search, windshield survey, key informant interviews, and a quantitative online survey. The methodology is outlined in a companion manuscript, entitled "A Methodological Approach to Conducting a Statewide Community Needs Assessment of Pediatric Palliative Care and Hospice Resources."
RESULTS: Four key themes were identified from synthesis of primary and secondary data collection: defining and providing PPC, the environment for PPC in Georgia, coordination and collaboration, and the future of PPC in Georgia. Recommendations to improve PPC services in Georgia were categorized by feasibility and importance. High feasibility, high importance recommendations included expanding PPC education for both providers and patients, and creating a formal network or coalition of PPC providers and allies who can work collaboratively at multiple care levels across Georgia in expanding PPC services.
CONCLUSIONS: In Georgia, this assessment provides the foundation for next steps in coordinated efforts between hospital-based clinicians, state hospice and palliative care organizations, and state policy makers to ultimately expand PPC care available to children and families.
BACKGROUND: Despite the significant benefits of palliative care (PC) services for cancer patients, multiple challenges hinder the provision of PC services for these patients. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are witnessing a sharp growth in the burden of non-communicable diseases. There is a significant gap between demand and supply of PC in LMICs in current health services. This review aims to synthesise evidence from previous reviews and deliver a more comprehensive mapping of the existing literature about personal, system, policy, and organisational challenges and possible facilitators on the provision of PC services for cancer patients in LMICs.
METHODS: A systematic review of reviews was performed following PRISMA guidelines. PubMed, EMBASE, SCOPUS, PsycINFO, Web of Sciences, CINAHL, and Cochrane Library databases were searched to identify review papers published between 2000 and 2018 that considered challenges and possible facilitators to PC provision. A modified socioecological model was used as a framework for analysing and summarising findings.
RESULTS: Fourteen reviews were included. The reviews varied in terms of aim, settings, and detail of the challenges and possible facilitators. The main challenges of personal and health care systems included knowledge deficits and misunderstandings from patients, families, the general public, and health care providers about PC; and inadequate number of trained workforce. Besides, limited physical infrastructure, insufficient drugs for symptom relief and lack of a comprehensive national plan for implementing PC were the core organisational and policy level challenges that were recognised. Furthermore, the main possible facilitators that were identified included provision of adequate training for health care providers and health education for patients, families and the general public to enhance their knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes to PC. Finally, involvement of policymakers and making drugs available for symptom relief should also be in place to improve the health care systems.
CONCLUSIONS: Understanding challenges to the provision of PC for people with cancer could help in the development of a PC pathway in LMICs. This knowledge could be used as a guide to develop an intervention programme to improve PC. Political influence and support are also required to ensure the sustainability and the provision of high-quality PC.
Introduction: Many patients and their families are hesitant to consult a palliative care (PC) team. In 2014, approximately 6,000,000 people in the United States could benefit from PC, and this number is expected to increase over the next 25 years.
Objectives: The purpose of this review is to shed light on the significance of PC and provide a holistic view outlining both the benefits and existing barriers.
Methods: A literature search was conducted using MEDLINE (PubMed), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science to identify articles published in journals from 1948 to 2019. A narrative approach was used to search the grey literature.
Discussion: Traditionally, the philosophy behind PC was based on alleviating suffering associated with terminal illnesses; PC was recommended only after other treatment options had been exhausted. However, the tenets of PC are applicable to anyone with a life-threatening illness as it is beneficial in conjunction with traditional treatments. It is now recognized that PC services are valuable when initiated alongside disease-modifying therapy early in the disease course. Studies have shown that PC decreased total symptom burden, reduced hospitalizations, and enabled patients to remain safely at home.
Conclusion: As the population ages and chronic illnesses become more widespread, there continues to be a growing need for PC programs. The importance of PC should not be overlooked despite existing barriers such as the lack of professional training and the cost of implementation. Education and open discussion play essential roles in the successful early integration of PC.
Background: Despite the high potential to improve the quality of life of patients and families, palliative care services face significant obstacles to their use. In countries with high-resource health systems, the nonfinancial and nonstructural obstacles to palliative care services are particularly prominent. These are the cognitive barriers -knowledge and communication barriers- to the use of palliative care. To date no systematic review has given the deserved attention to the cognitive barriers and facilitators to palliative care services utilization.
This study aims to synthesize knowledge on cognitive barriers and facilitators to palliative care use in oncology and hemato-oncology from the experiences of health professionals, patients, and their families.
Methods: A systematic review was conducted. PubMed, PsycINFO, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care/Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (IAHPC/CINAHL), and Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC) were systematically searched for the main core concepts: palliative care, barriers, facilitators, perspectives, points of view, and related terms and synonyms. After screening of titles, abstracts, and full-texts, 52 studies were included in the qualitative thematic analysis.
Results: Four themes were identified: awareness of palliative care, collaboration and communication in palliative care-related settings, attitudes and beliefs towards palliative care, and emotions involved in disease pathways. The results showed that cognitive barriers and facilitators are involved in the educational, social, emotional, and cultural dimensions of palliative care provision and utilization. In particular, these barriers and facilitators exist both at the healthcare professional level (e.g. a barrier is lack of understanding of palliative care applicability, and a facilitator is strategic visibility of the palliative care team in patient floors and hospital-wide events) and at the patient and families level (e.g. a barrier is having misconceptions about palliative care, and a facilitator is patients’ openness to their own needs).
Conclusions: To optimize palliative care services utilization, awareness of palliative care, and healthcare professionals’ communication and emotion management skills should be enhanced. Additionally, a cultural shift, concerning attitudes and beliefs towards palliative care, should be encouraged.
Specialist Palliative Care services (SPCS) have a vital role to play in the global COVID-19 pandemic. Core expertise in complex symptom management, decision-making in uncertainty, advocacy and education, and ensuring a compassionate response are essential, and SPCS are well positioned to take a proactive approach in crisis management planning.
SPCS resource capacity is likely to be overwhelmed, and consideration needs to be given to empowering and supporting high-quality primary palliative care in all care locations. Our local SPCS have developed a Palliative Care Pandemic Pack to disseminate succinct and specific information, guidance, and resources designed to enable the rapid up-skilling of non-specialist clinicians needing to provide palliative care. It may be a useful tool for our SPCS colleagues to adapt as we face this global challenge collaboratively.
Context: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is stressing health care systems throughout the world. Significant numbers of patients are being admitted to the hospital with severe illness, often in the setting of advanced age and underlying comorbidities. Therefore, palliative care is an important part of the response to this pandemic. The Seattle area and UW Medicine have been on the forefront of the pandemic in the U.S.
Methods: UW Medicine developed a strategy to implement a palliative care response for a multihospital health care system that incorporates conventional capacity, contingency capacity, and crisis capacity. The strategy was developed by our palliative care programs with input from the health care system leadership.
Results: In this publication, we share our multifaceted strategy to implement high-quality palliative care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic that incorporates conventional, contingency, and crisis capacity and focuses on the areas of the hospital caring for the most patients: the emergency department, intensive care units, and acute care services. The strategy focuses on key content areas, including identifying and addressing goals of care, addressing moderate and severe symptoms, and supporting family members.
Conclusion: Strategy planning for delivery of high-quality palliative care in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic represents an important area of need for our health care systems. We share our experiences of developing such a strategy to help other institutions conduct and adapt such strategies more quickly.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the regional variation in hospital care utilization in the last 6 months of life of Dutch patients with lung cancer and to test whether higher degrees of hospital utilization coincide with less general practitioner (GP) and long-term care use.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional claims data study.
SETTING: The Netherlands.
PARTICIPANTS: Patients deceased in 2013-2015 with lung cancer (N = 25 553).
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We calculated regional medical practice variation scores, adjusted for age, gender and socioeconomic status, for radiotherapy, chemotherapy, CT-scans, emergency room contacts and hospital admission days during the last 6 months of life; Spearman Rank correlation coefficients measured the association between the adjusted regional medical practice variation scores for hospital admissions and ER contacts and GP and long-term care utilization.
RESULTS: The utilization of hospital services in high-using regions is 2.3-3.6 times higher than in low-using regions. The variation was highest in 2015 and lowest in 2013. For all 3 years, hospital care was not significantly correlated with out-of-hospital care at a regional level.
CONCLUSIONS: Hospital care utilization during the last 6 months of life of patients with lung cancer shows regional medical practice variation over the course of multiple years and seems to increase. Higher healthcare utilization in hospitals does not seem to be associated with less intensive GP and long-term care. In-depth research is needed to explore the causes of the variation and its relation to quality of care provided at the level of daily practice.
BACKGROUND: Key Information Summaries (KIS) were introduced throughout Scotland in 2013 so that anticipatory care plans written by general practitioners (GPs) could be routinely shared electronically and updated in real time, between GPs and providers of unscheduled and secondary care.
AIMS: We aimed to describe the current reach of anticipatory and palliative care, and to explore GPs' views on using KIS.
METHODS: We studied the primary care records of all patients who died in 2014 in 9 diverse Lothian practices. We identified if anticipatory or palliative care had been started, and if so how many weeks before death and which aspects of care had been documented. We interviewed 10 GPs to understand barriers and facilitating factors.
RESULTS: Overall, 60% of patients were identified for a KIS, a median of 18 }weeks before death. The numbers identified were highest for patients with cancer, with 75% identified compared with 66% of those dying with dementia/frailty and only 41% dying from organ failure. Patients were more likely to die outside hospital if they had a KIS. GPs identified professional, patient and societal challenges in identifying patients for palliative care, especially those with non-cancer diagnoses.
CONCLUSIONS: GPs are identifying patients for anticipatory and palliative care more equitably across the different disease trajectories and earlier in the disease process than they were previously identifying patients specifically for palliative care. However, many patients still lack care planning, particularly those dying with organ failure.
Recent reports highlight an inconsistent provision of palliative and end-of-life (palliative) care across Australia, particularly in regional, rural and remote areas. Palliative care improves quality of life and the experience of dying, and all people should have equitable access to quality needs-based care as they approach and reach the end of their lives. A palliative approach to care is crucial in rural and remote Australia where there is a reliance for such care on generalist providers amid the challenges of a limited workforce, poorer access, and vast geography. This article describes the development and implementation of the Far West NSW Palliative and End-of-Life Model of Care, a systematic solution that could drive improvement in the provision of a quality palliative approach to care and support from any clinician in a timely manner, for patients, their families and carers anywhere.
In Spain, health competencies are decentralized, and each autonomous community implements its own plans. Our aim is to determine if the existence of regional palliative care plans implies an improvement in health care coverage. We reviewed regional palliative care plans published in Spain and analyzed the following variables: number and profile of palliative care resources, guidelines and objectives of implementation of resources of these plans, and compliance with European standards. The publication of regional plans is associated with an increase in specific resources in the following years. From 2004 to 2009, the implementation of plans in 6 autonomous communities was associated with an increase in palliative care resources compared to those without a strategy (odds ratio: 1.58, P = .02) or with a settled plan (odds ratio: 1.40, P = .07). The same phenomenon was observed between 2009 and 2015 in 4 autonomous communities and 2 autonomous cities compared with those without a strategy (odds ratio: 2.49, P = .001) and those that implemented a plan before 2009 (odds ratio: 2.62, P < .001). Updating and evaluating these regional plans are also associated with the growth of palliative care resources.
Background: Palliative care (PC) and hospice care are underutilized for patients with end-stage liver disease, but factors associated with these patterns of utilization are not well understood.
Objective: We examined patient-level factors associated with both PC and hospice referrals in patients with decompensated cirrhosis (DC).
Design: Retrospective cohort study.
Setting/Subjects: Patients with DC hospitalized at a single tertiary center and followed for one year.
Measurements: We assessed PC and hospice referrals during follow-up and examined patient-level factors associated with the receipt of PC and/or hospice, as well as associated clinical outcomes. We also examined late referrals (within one week of death).
Results: Of 397 patients, 61 (15.4%) were referred to PC, 71 (17.9%) were referred to hospice, and 99 (24.9%) were referred to PC and/or hospice. Two hundred patients (50.4%) died during the one-year follow-up. In multivariable logistic regression, referral to PC was associated with increased comorbidity burden, ascites, increased MELD (Model for End-Stage Liver Disease)-Na score, lack of listing for liver transplant, and unmarried status. Hospice referral was associated with increased comorbidities, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. PC referrals were late in 68.5% of cases, and hospice referrals were late in 62.7%. Late PC referrals were associated with younger age and married status. Late hospice referrals were associated with younger age and recent alcohol use.
Conclusions: PC and hospice is underutilized in patients with DC, and most referrals are late. Patient-level factors associated with these referrals differ between PC and hospice.