OBJECTIVE: At the end of life, the need for care increases. Yet, for structurally vulnerable populations (i.e., people experiencing homelessness and poverty, racism, criminalization of illicit drug use, stigma associated with mental health), access to care remains highly inaccessible. Emerging research suggests that enhancing access to palliative care for these populations requires moving care from traditional settings, such as the hospital, into community settings, like shelters and onto the street. Thus, inner-city workers (ICWs) (e.g., housing support and community outreach) have the potential to play pivotal roles in improving access to care by integrating a "palliative approach to care" in their work.
METHOD: Drawing upon observational field notes and interview data collected for a larger critical ethnographic study, this secondary thematic analysis examines ICWs' (n = 31) experiences providing care for dying clients and garners their perspectives regarding the constraints and facilitators that exist in successfully integrating a palliative approach to care in their work.
RESULTS: Findings reveal three themes: (1) Approaches, awareness, and training; (2) Workplace policies and filling in the gaps; and (3) Grief, bereavement, and access to supports. In brief, ICWs who draw upon harm reduction strategies strongly parallel palliative approaches to care, although more knowledge/training on palliative approaches was desired. In their continuous work with structurally vulnerable clients, ICWs have the opportunity to build trusting relationships, and over time, are able to identify those in need and assist in providing palliative support. However, despite death and dying is an everyday reality of ICWs, many described a lack of formal acknowledgement by employers and workplace support as limitations.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Findings contribute promising practices for enhancing equitable access to palliative care for society's most vulnerable populations by prioritizing front-line workers' perspectives on how best to integrate a palliative approach to care where structurally vulnerable populations live and die.
BACKGROUND: People experiencing structural vulnerability (e.g. homelessness, poverty, racism, criminalization of illicit drug use and mental health stigma) face significant barriers to accessing care at the end-of-life. 'Family' caregivers have the potential to play critical roles in providing care to these populations, yet little is known regarding 'who' caregivers are in this context and what their experiences may be.
AIM: To describe family caregiving in the context of structural vulnerability, to understand who these caregivers are, and the unique challenges, burdens and barriers they face.
DESIGN: Critical ethnography.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-five family caregivers participated. Observational fieldnotes and semi-structured interviews were conducted in home, shelter, transitional housing, clinic, hospital, palliative care unit, community-based service centre and outdoor settings.
RESULTS: Family caregivers were found to be living within the constraints of structural vulnerability themselves, with almost half being street family or friends. The type of care provided varied greatly and included tasks associated with meeting the needs of basic survival (e.g. finding food and shelter). Thematic analysis revealed three core themes regarding experiences: Caregiving in the context of (1) poverty and substance use; (2) housing instability and (3) challenging relationships.
CONCLUSION: Findings offer novel insight into the experiences of family caregiving in the context of structural vulnerability. Engaging with family caregivers emerged as a missing and necessary palliative care practice, confirming the need to re-evaluate palliative care models and acknowledge issues of trust to create culturally relevant approaches for successful interventions. More research examining how 'family' is defined in this context is needed.
What does it mean to be vulnerable? Vulnerable groups of people are those that are disproportionally exposed to risk, but who is included in these groups can change dynamically. A person not considered vulnerable at the outset of a pandemic can become vulnerable depending on the policy response. The risks of sudden loss of income or access to social support have consequences that are difficult to estimate and constitute a challenge in identifying all those who might become vulnerable. Certainly, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vulnerable groups are not only elderly people, those with ill health and comorbidities, or homeless or underhoused people, but also people from a gradient of socioeconomic groups that might struggle to cope financially, mentally, or physically with the crisis.
The purpose of this study was to examine the psychometric properties of the Advance Directive Attitude Survey in Korean (K-ADAS), a measure of attitudes toward advance directives (ADs). A total of 118 low-income, community-dwelling older adults (mean age, 75.09 years) participated. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted to determine the factor structure of the K-ADAS. Validity was further assessed by known associations of the K-ADAS with perceived susceptibility and severity using part of the Advance Care Planning surveys. Its reliability was examined by calculating alpha coefficients. EFA determined a three-factor structure model with good model fit. Validity was further supported with significant correlations between the K-ADAS and susceptibility and severity. Reliability was supported by adequate level of Cronbach's alpha. The K-ADAS was a valid and reliable measure for assessment of AD attitudes with a sound model fit. Thus, the K-ADAS can be used to assess AD attitudes among community-dwelling elders.
INTRODUCTION: Equitable delivery of advance care planning and symptom management among patients is crucial to improving cancer care. Existing interventions to improve the uptake of these services have predominantly occurred in clinic settings and are limited in their effectiveness, particularly among low-income and minority populations.
METHODS: The "Lay health worker Educates Engages and Activates Patients to Share (LEAPS)" intervention was developed to improve advance care planning and symptom management among low-income and minority hourly-wage workers with cancer, in two community settings. The intervention provides a lay health worker to all patients newly diagnosed with cancer and aims to educate and activate patients to engage in advance care planning and symptom management with their oncology providers. In this randomized clinical trial, we will evaluate the effect on quality of life (primary outcome) using the validated Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - General Survey, at enrollment, 4- and 12- months post-enrollment. We will examine between-group differences on our secondary outcomes of patient activation, patient satisfaction with healthcare decision-making, and symptom burden (at enrollment, 4- and 12-months post-enrollment), and total healthcare use and healthcare costs (at 12-months post-enrollment).
DISCUSSION: Multilevel approaches are urgently needed to improve cancer care delivery among low-income and minority patients diagnosed with cancer in community settings. The current study describes the LEAPS intervention, the study design, and baseline characteristics of the community centers participating in the study.
In the United States, racial and ethnic minorities and people with lower socioeconomic status (SES) face structural, health system, and interpersonal barriers to optimal health care, including palliative care. Much of the available data on palliative care in racial and ethnic minorities and people with lower SES have identified disparities according to race, ethnicity, and SES. Limitations to understanding disparities in palliative care include the fact that much of the available data are cross-sectional, drawn from administrative or claims data, or based on qualitative work in limited geographic areas. To advance our knowledge and achieve health equity with respect to palliative care in patient groups that have been understudied or that are known to receive disparate care, gaining a deeper understanding of the barriers to palliative care is necessary from patients, families, referring providers, and communities. In addition, cultural competency training for all members of the palliative care team and referring providers needs to be changed from being obligatory to being intentional and assessed continuously. Finally, concerted changes in coordination of care, payment structures, and policy are needed.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care (PC) for patients with malignant hematological diseases is scarcely documented, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This study aimed to document PC provided to patients with hematologic malignancies.
METHODS: Bidirectional study conducted from July 2016 to June 2019 at the hematology and palliative care departments at a reference center in Northeast Mexico for low-income open population uninsured patients. Clinical records and electronic files of patients with malignant hematological diseases of both sexes and all ages attending an academic hematology center were reviewed. Statistical analysis was performed with the SPSS version 22 program. Acute and chronic leukemias, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin lymphoma, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and others were included.
RESULTS: Five-hundred ten patients were studied, of which 148 (29%) died. Eighty-one (15.88%) patients including 31 (20.9%) who died received PC. Median age at palliative diagnosis was 42 (2-91) years. The most common symptom was pain (69.7%). The most frequent reason for palliative referral was treatment-refractory disease (39%). During the last week of life, 19 (95%) of 20 patients had blood sampling; 17 (85%) received antibiotics; 16 (80%) had a urinalysis performed; 16 (80%) received analgesia, including paracetamol (11, 35.5%) and buprenorphine (7, 22.6%); 10 (50%) received blood products; 9 (45%) were intubated; and central venous catheters were inserted in 5 (25%) patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Palliative care was provided to a minority of patients with hematologic malignancies and considerable improvement is required in its timely use and extension.
Background: To the authors' knowledge, end-of-life (EOL) care outcomes among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer who are living in poverty remain poorly understood. The primary aim of the current study was to examine the effect of poverty on EOL care for AYA patients with cancer.
Methods: The authors conducted a multisite, retrospective study of AYA patients with cancer aged 15 to 39 years who died between January 2013 and December 2016 at 3 academic sites. Medical record-based EOL care outcomes included hospice referral, palliative care (PC) consultation, cancer treatment within the last month of life, and location of death. Two measures of poverty were applied: 1) zip code with a median income =200% of the federal poverty level; and 2) public insurance or lack of insurance. Logistic regression analyses were conducted.
Results: A total of 252 AYA cancer decedents were identified. Approximately 41% lived in a high-poverty zip code and 48% had public insurance or lacked insurance; approximately 70% had at least 1 poverty indicator. Nearly 40% had a hospice referral, 60% had a PC consultation (76% on an inpatient basis), 38% received EOL cancer treatment, and 39% died in the hospital. In bivariable analyses, AYA patients living in low-income zip codes were found to be less likely to enroll in hospice (P = .01), have an early PC referral (P = .01), or receive EOL cancer treatment (P = .03), although only EOL cancer treatment met statistical significance in multivariable models. No differences with regard to location of death (P = .99) were observed.
Conclusions: AYA patients with cancer experience low rates of hospice referral and high rates of in-hospital death regardless of socioeconomic status. Future studies should evaluate early inpatient PC referrals as a possible method for improving EOL care.
BACKGROUND: Thirty-five thousand Canadians are homeless on any given night, and mortality rates are much higher than for the general population. Studies have identified barriers to accessing end-of-life care among the homeless, including logistic barriers and experiences of stigma. This study seeks to explore the experience, goals, fears, and hopes surrounding death in the setting of homelessness or vulnerable housing.
METHODS: Qualitative phenomenological study involving focus groups and in-depth interviews with 31 people with lived experience of homelessness. Additional sociodemographic data collected from participants.
FINDINGS: Themes included extensive experience with death and dying, relationship with mortality, ideas for a good death, and desires for end-of-life care. Participants presented suggestions for improving end-of-life care including care that was delivered by people with lived experience of homelessness and substance use; care that was provided either as outreach or in a welcoming, flexible institutional environment; care that minimized stigma and enhanced dignity; and care that respected people's desires to use substances at the end of life.
DISCUSSION: Participants with lived experience of homelessness were articulate in their desires and needs for end-of-life care. They have extensive exposure to mortality and feel that their needs are not met by the current palliative care system. Recommendations for system change that include harm reduction and equity-oriented health care, as well as a combination of outreach and inpatient services, are necessary before palliative care services will be accessible for this population.
BACKGROUND: Socioeconomic disparities in home death have been noted in the literature. Home-based palliative care increases access to home death and has been suggested as a means to decrease these disparities.
AIM: Our study examines the association between socioeconomic status and other demographic factors on place of death in a population receiving home palliative care in Toronto, Canada.
DESIGN: This is a retrospective chart review of patients who died between August 2013 and August 2015 when admitted to a home-based palliative care service. Multivariate multinomial regression examined the relationship between the place of death (home, palliative care unit [PCU], or acute care) with age, gender, primary diagnosis, and income quintile. Bivariate logistic regression was fitted to calculate the odds ratio (OR) and probability of preference for home death.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Patients receiving home-based palliative care services from the Latner Centre for Palliative Care in Toronto, Canada.
RESULTS: A total of 2066 patients were included in multivariate analysis. Patients in the lowest income quintile had increased odds of dying in acute care (OR = 2.41, P < .001) or dying in PCU (OR = 1.64, P = .008) than patients in highest income quintile. Patients in the next lowest income quintiles 2 and 3 were also more likely to die in acute care. The rate of preference for home death was significantly lower in the lowest income quintile (OR = 0.47, P = .0047).
CONCLUSIONS: Patients in lower income quintiles are less likely to die at home, despite receiving home-based palliative care, although they may also be less likely to prefer home death.
BACKGROUND: Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, causing a substantial economic burden on cancer suffers and their families. The aim of this study is to explore the prevalence, determinants and consequences of catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) among urban and rural end-of-life (EOF) cancer patients in China.
METHODS: Using respondent-driven sampling and face-to-face interviews, field research was conducted with a specialist questionnaire. Data were collected on 792 cancer patients who died between June 2013 and June 2016 in China. The determinants of household catastrophic expenditure were identified by multivariate logistic regression.
FINDINGS: It is found that more than 80% of cancer patients received life-extending treatment. Extremely high rates of CHE were identified among EOL cancer patients, at 94.3% for urban families and 96.1% for rural families. After spending for health, 84.1% of urban and 91.1% rural EOL cancer patient households were impoverished, falling below the poverty line. For both urban and rural households, income was the most significant factor associated with catastrophic health expenditure (CHE). Health insurance did not adequately compensate for CHE. Rural families experienced higher CHE, lower levels of health care utilization, a different mix of health care access and higher rates of borrowing for out-of-pocket (OOP) health care expenditures than urban families. Both urban and rural households suffered long-term economic disadvantage due to CHE and borrowing for OOP medical care expenses.
CONCLUSIONS: EOL cancer patients experienced severe CHE, with families forced into poverty. With only about 1% of EOL cancer patients receiving palliative care, developing palliative care services and expanding the acceptance of palliative care in China is both urgent and essential. To help address impoverishment due to CHE, China should also develop targeted programs to reduce income inequality, especially rural-urban inequalities; increase access to health care; and accelerate health reform. Increasing the retirement age would provide households with more savings and wealth to withstand CHE.
This literature review aimed to answer the focus question: are district nurses well placed to provide equitable end of life care (EOL) for homeless individuals? It focused on 10 primary research studies, from which two themes emerged and subsequently formed the basis of the discussion: (1) the difficulty in predicting disease trajectory in people who are homeless and (2) the gaps in existing systems. The main findings from these themes were a lack of education on the recognition of the dying and a general lack of knowledge of the complex challenges faced by and health needs of homeless people, which cause stigma from both the general public and health professionals towards these marginalised individuals. Further, there is certainly a lack of suitable places to deliver palliative and EOL care for people who are homeless. Available services are inflexible and have no tolerance for substance misuse, which creates an access barrier for homeless people in need of EOL care.
INTRODUCTION: Data-based research has rarely addressed advance directives (ADs) in community-dwelling Korean cancer survivors. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between AD treatment choices and decisional conflicts among low-income, home-based cancer management recipients.
METHOD: This study uses a cross-sectional, correlational design. The cancer survivors completed the questionnaires (Korean-Advance Directive model and Decisional Conflict Scale).
RESULTS: Among the 103 participants (average age 67.92 years), 56.3% had solid cancer. Hospice care was the most desired (68.9%), followed by hemodialysis (18.4%), cardiopulmonary resuscitation/ventilation support (15.5% for each), and chemotherapy (12.6%). Patients who were older, unmarried, unemployed, or underweight/obese; lived alone; or had lower education experienced greater decisional conflicts. In the multivariate analyses, no hospice preference was associated with greater decisional conflicts ( t = -2.63, p = .01).
DISCUSSION: Early integration of AD discussion with the nurse-led, home-based service for this vulnerable population could serve as a liaison for quality and continuity of cancer survivorship care.
CONTEXT: Completion of advance directives (ADs) enhances the likelihood of receiving goal-concordant treatments near the end of life. Previous research on community samples have shown that completion of ADs is less common in lower socioeconomic status demographic group; there is a paucity of such research in patients with cancer.
OBJECTIVES: To study the effect of income and education on the completion of ADs.
HYPOTHESIS: Patients with cancer having lower incomes and education levels would be less likely to report completing ADs.
METHODS: We conducted cross-sectional analyses of data provided by patients (n = 265) enrolled in the Values and Options in Cancer Care clinical trial. Patients with advanced cancer reported whether they had (1) completed a living will or (2) designated a health-care proxy. Response options for both questions were yes (scored 1), no (scored 0), and unsure (scored 0). We studied the association of lower household income (=US$20 000) and education level (never attended college) with AD scores.
RESULTS: Patients with lower annual incomes had lower AD scores (estimate -0.44; confidence intervals [CI]: -0.71 to -0.16, P = .001); the association between higher educational attainment (some college or more) and completion of ADs was not statistically significant (estimate 0.04, CI: -0.16 to 0.24, P = .70).
CONCLUSION: Interventions to promote completion of ADs among lower income patients with serious illnesses are needed.
For most families, the preferred location of death for their child is home, yet most children still die in the hospital. Many children with life-threatening and life-limiting illness are medically dependent on technology, and palliative transport can serve as a bridge from the intensive care unit to the family's home to achieve family-centered goals of care. Palliative transport may also present an opportunity to prioritize cultural care and rituals at end of life which cannot be provided in the hospital. We describe a case series of pediatric patients from communities espousing markedly diverse cross-cultural values and limited financial resources. Specific cultural considerations at end of life for these children included optimizing the presence of the shared community or tribe, the centrality of healing rituals, and varied attitudes toward withdrawal of life-sustaining medical treatment. By addressing each of these components, we were able to coordinate palliative transport to enhance cross-cultural care and meaning at end of life for children with life-limiting illness.
Palliative care has demonstrated effectiveness in alleviating the biological, emotional, social, and spiritual symptoms that accompany serious illness, and improving quality of life for seriously ill individuals and their family members. Despite increasing availability, there are significant disparities in access to and utilization of palliative care, particularly among diverse, low-income, and community-dwelling older adults with chronic illness. Training frontline service providers is a novel approach to expanding access to palliative care among underserved elders. This article presents a process and outcome evaluation of a palliative care curriculum that was developed and piloted for geriatric case managers in a large urban area. We describe the background, planning, design, implementation, and preliminary outcomes associated with a pilot implementation of the curriculum. We conclude with implications for replicating efforts to enhance frontline providers' knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy in extending palliative care to communities that lack access to critical supports for their burdensome symptoms.
Context: Better understanding of clinicians' skill communicating with their patients and of patients' trust in clinicians is necessary to develop culturally sensitive palliative care interventions. Race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religiosity have been documented as factors influencing quality of communication and trust.
Objectives: The objective of this study was to explore associations of seriously ill patients' race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and religiosity with patients' ratings of the quality of clinicians' communication and trust in clinicians.
Methods: An observational analysis was performed using baseline data from a multicenter cluster-randomized trial of a communication intervention. We enrolled consecutive patients with chronic, life-limiting illnesses (n = 537) cared for by primary and specialty care clinicians (n = 128) between 2014 and 2016 in outpatient clinics in Seattle, Washington. We assessed patient demographics (age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income, and self-rated health status), Duke University Religion Index, Quality of Communication Scale, and Wake Forest Physician Trust Scale. We used probit and linear regression and path analyses to examine associations.
Results: Patients providing higher ratings of clinician communication included those belonging to racial/ethnic minority groups (P = 0.001), those with lower income (P = 0.008), and those with high religiosity/spirituality (P = 0.004). Higher trust in clinicians was associated with minority status (P = 0.018), lower education (P = 0.019), and clinician skill in communication (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: Contrary to prior studies, racial/ethnic minorities and patients with lower income rated communication higher and reported higher trust in their clinicians than white and higher income patients. More research is needed to identify and understand factors associated with quality communication and trust between seriously ill patients and clinicians to guide development of patient-centered palliative care communication interventions.
The process of dying pronounces inequities, particularly for structurally vulnerable populations. Extending recent health geography research, we critically explore how the 'places' of formal healthcare settings shape experiences of, and access to, palliative care for the structurally vulnerable (e.g., homeless, substance users). Drawing on 30 months of ethnographic data, thematic findings reveal how symbolic, aesthetic, and physical elements of formal healthcare 'places' intersect with social relations of power to produce, reinforce, and amplify structural vulnerability and thus, inequities in access to care. Such knowledge may inform decision-makers on ways to enhance equitable access to palliative care for some of societies' most vulnerable population groups.
Aim: This study aimed to compare the quality of life (QoL) of cancer patients, with an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance of 3-4, in contact with or without contact, with a specialized palliative care unit (PCU) at a low-resource governmental cancer hospital, as well as studying the impact of this contact on the QoL in their caregivers.
Materials and Methods: Hospitalized patients with an ECOG performance of 3 or 4 and their primary caregiver were asked to participate in this observational study. Patients in contact with the specialized PCU and their closest caregivers formed Group A, while patients and families without this contact formed Group B. Contact was mainly one consultation. The patients were asked to complete the Palliative Care Outcome Scale (POS), and the caregivers were asked to complete the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and the distress thermometer (DT).
Results: There was no statistically significant difference between the median POS values of the patient groups, neither regarding the total sum nor per any item. There were also no statistically significant differences between the median HADS values and median DT values when comparing the caregivers to Group A and B.
Conclusion: Consultation with a specialized PCU at this tertiary referral center did not alter the QoL of patients with an ECOG performance of 3-4 nor did it affect the psychological well-being of their caregivers. We argue that monitoring prescribed treatment and follow-up is a necessary component of PC.
OBJECTIVES: To identify patterns of access to and use or provision of palliative care services in medically underserved and vulnerable groups diagnosed with cancer.
DATA SOURCES: Google Scholar, PubMed, MEDLINE, and Web of Science were searched to identify peer-reviewed studies that described palliative care in medically underserved or vulnerable populations diagnosed with cancer.
CONCLUSION: Disparities in both access and referral to palliative care are evident in many underserved groups. There is evidence that some groups received poorer quality of such care.
IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Achieving health equity in access to and receipt of quality palliative care requires prioritization of this area in clinical practice and in research funding.