CONTEXT: We reviewed the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Bereaved Family Survey's (BFS) open-ended responses to understand end of life care (EOL) best practices for Vietnam and pre-Vietnam Veterans.
OBJECTIVES: To identify: 1) recommendations for improved EOL care enhancements for older Veterans 2) a model of best practices in EOL care for Veterans, and 3) any relevant differences in best practices between Vietnam and prior war eras.
METHODS: We examined five years of BFS data (n=2,784), collected between 2013 and 2017, from bereaved family members of Veterans focusing on 2 open-ended questions: 1) Is there anything else you would like to share about the Veteran's care during his last month of life? 2) Is there anything else you would like to share about how the care could have been improved for the Veteran? Applied thematic analysis identified successes and challenges in the experience of the bereaved of Vietnam and pre-Vietnam era Veterans.
RESULTS: Regardless of war era and death venue, a patient-centered approach to EOL care with readily available staff who: 1) provide ongoing support, comfort, honor, and validation; 2) routinely adjust to the patient's changing needs; 3) and provide clear, honest, timely, compassionate communication, was important to the bereaved. Consideration of the uniqueness of Vietnam Veterans is beneficial.
CONCLUSIONS: Patient-centered EOL care should include assigning a point of contact that follows the patient, educates the family on expectations, ensures the patient's changing needs are met, ensures the family has appropriate support, and communicates updates to family throughout the patient's care continuum.
Background: A systematic understanding of socio-economic inequalities in end-of-life (EOL) suffering among advanced cancer patients is required to inform efforts to reduce these inequalities as part of Universal Health Coverage goals.
Aims: To assess inequalities in multiple domains of EOL suffering among advanced cancer patients – physical, functional, psychological, social, and spiritual –, using two socio-economic status (SES) indicators, education and perceived economic status of the household.
Methods: We used cross-sectional data from surveys of stage IV cancer patients (n = 1378) from seven hospitals across five countries (China, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and Myanmar). We conducted separate multivariable linear regression models for each EOL suffering domain. We also tested interactions between the two SES indicators and between each SES indicator and patient age.
Results: Patients living in low economic status households /with fewer years of education reported greater suffering in several domains. We also found significant interaction effects between economic status of the household and years of education for all EOL suffering outcomes. Age significantly moderated the association between economic status of the household and social suffering and between years of education and psychological, social, and spiritual suffering (p < 0.05 for all).
Conclusion: Results highlight that SES inequalities in EOL suffering vary depending on the suffering domain, the SES indicator assessed, and by patient age. Greater palliative care resources for patients with low SES may help reduce these inequalities.
PURPOSE: To evaluate a screening tool for identifying which patients admitted to the oncology ward of a Vietnamese hospital should be referred to specialist palliative care (PC).
METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional survey of consecutive patients hospitalized in the Department of Oncology and Palliative Care at Hanoi Medical University Hospital between June 2019 and September 2019. We translated a validated 11-item screening tool into Vietnamese and used a total score of = 5 as a positive screen.
RESULTS: One hundred participants were recruited. Forty-four patients (44%) screened positive. Of these, 37 (84%) had locally advanced or metastatic disease, 31 (70%) had uncontrolled symptoms, and 43 (98%) requested a PC consultation. A score = 5 was significantly more common in patients with stage IV disease versus earlier stage, performance status of Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) 2 versus ECOG 0, and when life-limiting complications of cancer were present. Screening identified four patients overlooked by oncologists as needing referral, and 34% of patients requesting a referral had scores < 5.
CONCLUSION: This screening tool provided oncologists with easy-to-use criteria for referring patients for PC. At the same time, it relieved the work load for under-resourced PC physicians by screening out requests with low-level need. This tool should be part of routine assessment on admission in all oncology units in Vietnam.
This study assessed the knowledge and attitude toward palliative care for the elderly among health professionals in a tertiary geriatric hospital in Vietnam and explored their determinants. Cross-sectional data were obtained on 161 geriatric health professionals at the National Geriatric Hospital. Modified-Palliative Care Knowledge Test and Frommelt Attitudes Toward Care of the Dying instruments were used to measure knowledge and attitude toward geriatric palliative care. As a result, 40.5% physicians and 74.2% nurses showed insufficient knowledge about geriatric palliative care (p < 0.05). The lowest score was for dyspnea, following by gastrointestinal and pain problems. No significant difference was found regarding the attitude between physicians and nurses (p > 0.05). Health professional category, age, and years of experience were found to be associated with knowledge about palliative care. Meanwhile, only knowledge score had correlations with total attitude score (Coef. = 0.2; 95%CI = 0.1-0.3), attitude toward patients (Coef. = 0.1; 95%CI = 0.0-0.1) and toward patients' family (Coef. = 0.1; 95%CI = 0.0-0.1). This study highlights a significant knowledge gap and preferable attitude toward palliative care for the elderly among physicians and nurses in the geriatric hospital. Intensive training about geriatric palliative care, focusing on pain, dyspnea and gastrointestinal issue management, should be performed to ensure the quality of palliative care services, especially in nurses.
BACKGROUND: Although the need for palliative care is gaining recognition in Southeast Asia, knowledge about how decisions are made for children near the end of life remains sparse.
OBJECTIVE: To explore pediatric intensivists' attitudes and practices surrounding end-of-life care in Vietnam.
METHODS: This is a mixed-methods study conducted at a tertiary pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit in Hanoi. Physicians and nurses completed a quantitative survey about their views on end-of-life care. A subset of these providers participated in semistructured interviews on related topics. Analysis of surveys and interviews were conducted. Results were triangulated.
RESULTS: Sixty-eight providers (33 physicians and 35 nurses) completed the quantitative survey, and 18 participated in interviews. Qualitative data revealed three overarching themes with numerous subthemes and supporting quotations. The first theme was factors influencing providers' decision-making process to escalate or withdraw treatment. Quantitative data showed that 40% of providers valued the family's ability to pay to continue life-sustaining treatment. Second, communication dynamics in decision making were highlighted; 72% of providers would be willing to override a family's wishes to withdraw life-sustaining treatment. Third, provider perceptions of death varied, with 68% regarding their patients' deaths as a personal failure.
CONCLUSIONS: We elicited and documented how pediatric intensivists in Vietnam currently think about and provide end-of-life care. These findings indicate a need to strengthen palliative care training, increase family involvement in decision making, implement standardized and official do-not-resuscitate documentation, and expand pediatric hospice services at the individual, hospital, and national levels in Vietnam.
Palliative care began in Vietnam in 2001, but steady growth in palliative care services and education commenced several years later when partnerships for ongoing training and technical assistance by committed experts were created with the Ministry of Health (MoH), major public hospitals, and medical universities. An empirical analysis of palliative care need by the MoH in 2006 was followed by national palliative care clinical guidelines, initiation of clinical training for physicians and nurses, and revision of opioid prescribing regulations. As advanced and specialist training programs in palliative care became available, graduates of these programs began helping to establish palliative care services in their hospitals. However, community-based palliative care is not covered by government health insurance and thus is almost completely unavailable. Work is underway to test the hypothesis that insurance coverage of palliative home care not only can improve patient outcomes but also provide financial risk protection for patients' families and reduce costs for the healthcare system by decreasing hospital admissions near the end of life. A national palliative care policy and strategic plan are needed to maintain progress toward universally accessible, cost-effective palliative care services.