AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To explore palliative care nurses work experiences caring for patients at the end of life in private homes.
BACKGROUND: The home continues to be a desired place for care and dying, however professional competence is needed and specialist palliative care nurses play a crucial role, often highly valued by patients and their family members. The private home as a physical work environment for nurses is explored, with both positive and negative aspects being described. To ensure future high-quality end-of-life care, there is a need to describe how palliative care nurses work in private homes.
DESIGN: Interpretative descriptive.
METHODS: Participant generated photographs were used in conjunction with follow-up interviews with ten palliative home care nurses. Interpretive description was used for analysis. This study follows the COREQ checklist.
RESULTS: The analysis process resulted in four constructed themes, presented here as strategies used by palliative care nurses: Adjusting interactions and actions depending on the environment when entering each unique private home; Supporting patients and family members in finding a balance between self-care, independence and safe care; Guiding patients and family members towards and through environmental changes supporting end-of-life care at home; and Using transitions between homes to reflect, recuperate and prepare.
CONCLUSION: Working as a palliative care nurse in private homes clearly requires a variety of skills and competences, here operationalized in different strategies used to promote high quality care.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Palliative care nurses' considerations, insights and competence when performing end-of-life care in the diverse environments of private homes can contribute to the development of clinical practice. Knowledge about strategies can be used in nursing practice during everyday work, in nursing education and in the organisation of care, and can inform policy to ensure future high-quality palliative home care.
OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to investigate symptom prevalence, symptom relief, and palliative care indicators during the last week of life, comparing them for patients with motor neuron disease (MND), central nervous system tumors (CNS tumor), and other neurological diseases (OND).
MATERIAL & METHODS: Data were obtained from the Swedish Register for Palliative Care, which documents care during the last week of life. Logistic regression was used to compare patients with MND (n = 419), CNS tumor (n = 799), and OND (n = 1,407) as the cause of death.
RESULTS: The most prevalent symptoms for all neurological disease groups were pain (52.7% to 72.2%) and rattles (58.1% to 65.6%). Compared to MND and OND, patients with CNS tumors were more likely to have totally relieved pain, shortness of breath, rattles, and anxiety. They were also more likely to have their pain assessed with a validated tool; to receive symptom treatment for anxiety, nausea, rattles, and pain; to have had family members receive end-of-life discussions; to have someone present at death; and to have had their family members offered bereavement support. Both patients with CNS tumor and MND were more likely than patients with OND to receive consultation with a pain unit and to have had end-of-life discussions.
CONCLUSIONS: The study reveals high symptom burden and differences in palliative care between the groups during the last week of life. There is a need for person-centered care planning based on a palliative approach, focused on improving symptom assessments, relief, and end-of-life conversations.
Parentally bereaved children and adolescents are at risk of developing psychological health problems. Evidence for a correlation between communication and broad measures of psychological health exists in other populations. The aim of this study was to examine associations between family communication and specific aspects of psychological health for children and adolescents following a parent’s death from cancer using parent-proxy and adolescent self-reports. Parent-proxy reports for children and adolescents, and adolescent self-reports for Parent–Adolescent Communication, Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, and Prolonged Grief-13 child were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Spearman’s correlation. Parents rated communication as moderate in quality and reported good psychological health for children and adolescents. Adolescent self-reports indicated low-quality communication with their parent and poor psychological health. Significant associations between Parent–Adolescent Communication subscales and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire subscales were found for each group. Prolonged grief was associated with emotional problems but not communication for all three groups.
Background: Family caregivers in palliative care may be placed in a complicated emotional situation wherein they suffer the risk of grief reactions both pre- and postbereavement and may also experience symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate (1) associations between predeath grief and postdeath grief and (2) whether these are moderated by symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Design: This was a prospective correlational study. Linear regression analysis in three blocks was used to investigate associations between pre- and postdeath grief and moderation effects of anxiety and depression. Postdeath grief was used as the outcome variable and predeath grief was used as the explanatory variable in block I. The moderator variables, symptoms of anxiety, and symptoms of depression were added as covariates in block II. A multiplicative interaction term between predeath grief and anxiety/depression was added to the model in block III.
Setting/Subjects: Data were collected at 10 facilities specialized in palliative home care where health care professionals provided advanced care to patients with various diagnoses in their own homes.
Measurements: The anticipatory grief scale and the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief were used to measure pre- and postdeath grief, respectively. To measure symptoms of anxiety and depression, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale was used.
Results: A total of 128 family caregivers were included. Significant associations were found between predeath grief and postdeath grief and this association remained when controlled against symptoms of anxiety or depression. We found no moderation effect of anxiety or depression on the association between pre- and postdeath grief.
Conclusions: In conclusion, grief before and after an expected death can be regarded as parts of the same grief process. Hence, knowing the intensity of predeath grief could be a way to predict the levels of postdeath grief.
The aim of this study was to explore patients' experiences of using the Integrated Palliative care Outcome Scale (IPOS) during specialized palliative home care. The study adopted a qualitative approach with an interpretive descriptive design. Interviews were performed with 10 patients, of whom a majority were diagnosed with incurable cancer. Our findings suggest that the use of IPOS as a basis for conversation promotes safe care by making the patients feel confident that the care provided was adapted to them which gives them a sense of safety. IPOS facilitated discussions between patients and nurses about care needs. The patients believed that using IPOS enabled reflection on their well-being and life situation. In conclusion, the study finds that using IPOS is beneficial and provide ways to enable person-centered care and with advantage could be used in specialized palliative home care. The results may help overcome barriers and facilitate the use of patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs). To enable the use of PROMs such as IPOS in palliative home care, nurses need education and opportunities to develop routines that enable patients' voice to be heard and thereby compose a basis for care.
This article investigates longitudinal variations in grief, self-rated health, and symptoms of anxiety and depression among family caregivers in palliative care. Data were taken from a randomized psycho-educational intervention trial and were collected at four time-points; at baseline, upon completion, 2 months later, and 6 months after the patient’s death. In total, 117 family caregivers completed all questionnaires. The participants’ grief was stable across the measurements, while anxiety, depression, and health varied significantly (p < 0.05). No significant differences were found between the intervention or control group. In conclusion, grief emerged as a constant phenomenon, distinct from symptoms of anxiety and depression.
INTRODUCTION: In palliative care, family caregivers are often faced with experiences of grief in anticipation of the loss of a close person. An instrument designed to measure this form of grief is the Anticipatory Grief Scale, which includes 27 items and has been used in several studies in various contexts. However, the instrument has not been validated.
AIM: The aim was to evaluate the psychometric properties, focusing on the factor structure, of the Anticipatory Grief Scale in a sample of family caregivers in palliative care.
METHODS: The study had a cross-sectional design. Data were collected from an intervention study in palliative home care that took place between 2013 and 2014. In total, 270 family caregivers in palliative care completed a baseline questionnaire, including the Anticipatory Grief Scale. The factor structure of the scale was evaluated using exploratory factor analysis.
RESULTS: The initial factor analysis suggested a four-factor solution, but, due to weak communalities, extensive crossloadings, and item inconsistencies, the model was problematic. Further analysis supported that the scale should be reduced to 13 items and two factors. The two subscales captured the behavioral and emotional reactions of grief in family caregivers in palliative care and were named Behavioral reactions and Emotional reactions. This modified version will hereafter be named AGS-13.
CONCLUSIONS: This validation study of the Anticipatory Grief Scale resulted in a revised two-factor model, AGS-13, that appears to be promising for use in palliative care but needs to be tested further.
PURPOSE: Family communication is a known protective factor for minor children's psychological health following the death of a parent, but there is little research describing communication within such families specifically from the perspective of the children. The purpose of this study was therefore to explore communication in parentally bereaved families from the perspective of the children and surviving parent.
METHODS: Interviews with four parents and four children from four families were analyzed using inductive content analysis. Interviews took place in the family's home or at the research center based on the family's wishes 4-14 months after a parent had died. Interviews had an open approach and were based on an interview guide. Each interview was between 60 and 120 min long.
RESULTS: Four categories emerged which were related to family members' experiences of family communication while adjusting to their new circumstances as bereaved: the importance of open and honest communication in the family; new challenges in the family which affect communication; communicating the need for help; and talking about and remembering the deceased parent.
CONCLUSIONS: This study illuminates the connection between family communication and adjustments to new circumstances following the death of a parent. The results suggest that the relationship between family adjustment and communication may be circular whereby the family's ability to adjust to their new circumstances is affected by how the family communicates. Similarly, family communication may be affected by the family's coping strategies and ability to adjust to their new circumstances.
BACKGROUND: Young adults represent a minority in research; they are often considered too young or too old for participation. There is sparse information, especially in bereavement research, regarding how this age group perceives research participation and what they consider beneficial or harmful.
AIM: To explore how parentally bereaved and nonbereaved young adults perceive research participation.
DESIGN: Qualitative analysis of free-text comments collected in a Swedish nation-wide survey.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Parentally cancer-bereaved and nonbereaved young adults between 18 and 25 years old living in Sweden.
RESULTS: Five categories were identified from the free-text comments, three among the cancer-bereaved: (1) therapeutic to remember the deceased, (2) valuable to help others and improve care, and (3) short-term distressful-long-term beneficial, and two among the nonbereaved: (1) increased reflection and awareness about life, and (2) an opportunity to help others.
CONCLUSIONS: It is important to invite young adults to participate in bereavement research. The results suggest that potential harm is minimal and that participating in bereavement research can have a beneficial effect on young adults.
OBJECTIVE: Chronic heart failure is a disease with high morbidity and symptom burden for patients, and it also places great demands on family members. Patients with heart failure should have access to palliative care for the purpose of improving quality of life for both patients and their families. In the PREFER randomized controlled intervention, patients with New York Heart Association classes III-IV heart failure received person-centered care with a multidisciplinary approach involving collaboration between specialists in palliative and heart failure care. The aim of the present study was to describe family members' experiences of the intervention, which integrated palliative advanced home and heart failure care.
METHOD: This study had a qualitative descriptive design based on family member interviews. Altogether, 14 family members participated in semistructured interviews for evaluation after intervention completion. The data were analyzed by means of content analysis.
RESULTS: Family members expressed gratitude and happiness after witnessing the patient feeling better due to symptom relief and empowerment. They also felt relieved and less worried, as they were reassured that the patient was being cared for properly and that their own responsibility for care was shared with healthcare professionals. However, some family members also felt as though they were living in the shadow of severe illness, without receiving any support for themselves.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Several benefits were found for family members from the PREFER intervention, and our results indicate the significance of integrated palliative advanced home and heart failure care. However, in order to improve this intervention, psychosocial professionals should be included on the intervention team and should contribute by paying closer attention and providing targeted support for family members.
BACKGROUND: Studies evaluating the end-of-life care for longer periods of illness trajectories and in several care places are currently lacking. This study explored bereaved family members' satisfaction with care during the last three months of life for people with advanced illness, and associations between satisfaction with care and characteristics of the deceased individuals and their family members.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey design was used. The sample was 485 family members of individuals who died at four different hospitals in Sweden.
RESULTS: Of the participants, 78.7% rated the overall care as high. For hospice care, 87.1% reported being satisfied, 87% with the hospital care, 72.3% with district/county nurses, 65.4% with nursing homes, 62.1% with specialized home care, and 59.6% with general practitioners (GPs). Family members of deceased persons with cancer were more likely to have a higher satisfaction with the care. A lower satisfaction was more likely if the deceased person had a higher educational attainment and a length of illness before death of one year or longer.
CONCLUSION: The type of care, diagnoses, length of illness, educational attainment, and the relationship between the deceased person and the family member influences the satisfaction with care.
PURPOSE: The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) was developed for use among family caregivers in palliative care for assessment of their support needs. The purpose of this study was to translate and evaluate the validity and reliability of the CSNAT in a sample of Swedish family caregivers and nurses in a palliative care context.
METHODS: Data for this validation study was collected during 2016 in the context of palliative home care in two larger Swedish cities. The study was conducted in three stages to reach conceptual, semantic, operational and measurement equivalence between the original UK version and the Swedish version. Stage I consisted of translation to Swedish. In Stage II, cognitive interviews were performed with 8 family caregivers and 10 nurses. Data were analyzed based on relevance, clarity and sensitivity. In Stage III, the CSNAT and related self-rating measures (caregiver burden, preparedness for caregiving and quality of life) were completed by 118 family caregivers. Data quality, construct validity and test-retest reliability were evaluated.
RESULTS: The CSNAT items were considered relevant and useful to identify areas of support needs. The Swedish CSNAT showed sound psychometric properties with satisfactory data quality and few problems with missing data across items (1.8%-6.1%). All items except one correlated as expected (rho>0.3) with caregiver burden, supporting construct validity. All items had satisfactory test-retest reliability ( w=0.45-0.75).
CONCLUSIONS: This study further adds to the validity of the CSNAT and shows in addition that it is reliable and stable for use among family caregivers in palliative care.
The Texas Revised Inventory of Grief (TRIG) was developed to measure the intensity of grief after the death of a close person. It consists of two scales: TRIG I (past behaviors) and TRIG II (present feelings). Because of inconsistencies in previous validations, the instrument needs to be further validated, hence the aim of this study was to evaluate the psychometric properties of the TRIG in a sample of bereaved family caregivers in Sweden. The TRIG was translated to Swedish according to standard principles, and 129 bereaved family caregivers completed the questionnaire. Parallel analysis was used to decide the number of factors to extract, followed by confirmatory factor analysis. An ordinal version of Cronbach's alpha was used to evaluate the internal consistency of the scales. Construct validity was tested against the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). The factor analyses resulted in one factor being retained for both scales. The internal consistency was excellent (a > 0.9) for both scales. Construct validity was supported by strong correlations between TRIG I and TRIG II as well as moderate correlations between the TRIG scales and HADS. In conclusion, the TRIG has sound psychometric qualities and the two scales should be treated as unidimensional measures of grief. Hence, the instrument is suited to be used in the context of palliative care.
Purpose: The knowledge about young adults who have lost a parent to cancer is limited, and to reach a broader understanding about this group, this study used the Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (Stroebe and Schut, 1999) as a theoretical framework. The purpose of this study was to describe loss- and restoration-oriented bereavement stressors and psychosocial wellbeing of young adults following the loss of a parent to cancer.
Method: This survey used baseline data from a longitudinal study. Young adults, aged 16–28 years, who lost a parent to cancer more than two months earlier and agreed to participate in support groups held at three palliative care services in Sweden, responded to a comprehensive theory-based study-specific questionnaire.
Results: Altogether, 77 young adults (64 women and 13 men) answered the questionnaire an average of five-to-eight months after the loss. Twenty percent (n = 15) had not been aware of their parent's impending death at all or only knew a few hours before the death, and 65% (n = 50) did not expect the death when it occurred. The young adults reported low self-esteem (n = 58, 76%), mild to severe anxiety (n = 55, 74%), mild to severe depression (n = 23, 31%) and low life satisfaction.
Conclusion: Young adults reported overall poor psychosocial wellbeing following bereavement. The unexpectedness and unawareness of the parent's imminent death, i.e., loss-oriented bereavement stressors, might influence psychosocial wellbeing. Despite these reports, restoration-oriented stressors, such as support from family and friends, helped them to cope with the loss.
BACKGROUND: In palliative care contexts, support programs for families with a severely ill parent and minor children are few, and even fewer have been evaluated scientifically. The aims of this study are to examine feasibility and potential effects of a modified version of the Family Talk Intervention (FTI) in palliative care.
METHODS: This ongoing family-centered intervention has a quasi-experimental design comparing one intervention and one comparison group. The intervention includes severely ill parents who have minor children (aged 6-19 yrs) and are receiving advanced homecare in Stockholm, Sweden between March 2017 and March 2018. The main goal of the FTI is to support family communication through psycho-education and narrative theory. The modified FTI consists of six meetings with family members, and is held by two interventionists. Each family sets up needs-based goals for the intervention. For evaluation purposes, data are collected by questionnaire before the intervention, within two months after baseline, and one year after baseline. Interviews will be conducted within two months after FTI is completed. Notes taken by one of the interventionists during the family meetings will also be used. Questionnaire data analysis will focus on patterns over time using descriptive statistics. For interview data and notes, content analysis will be used.
DISCUSSION: This study will add knowledge about palliative care for parents who have minor children. It will contribute by testing use of FTI in palliative care, and point out directions for future evaluations of FTI in palliative care settings.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT03119545 , retrospectively registered in April 18, 2017.
OBJECTIVES: Instruments for evaluating end-of-life care by voicing experiences of family members have previously been lacking in Sweden. The objective of this study was therefore to adapt and validate the VOICES (SF) questionnaire to evaluate quality of end-of-life care in Sweden. The VOICES (SF) [Views of Informal Carers - Evaluation of Services (Short form)] is a questionnaire about bereaved relatives' experiences of care in the last three months of life of a deceased family member.
METHODS: This study was performed based on translation and back translation, cross-cultural adaptation and content validation through cognitive interviewing and feedback from professional experts. For the cognitive interviews, a purposeful sample of 35 bereaved family members was recruited from home care, hospital wards and nursing homes. The participants were 13 men and 22 women (age ranged between 20 and 90+, mean age 66), who were relatives of persons who died from life-limiting conditions. The bereaved family members' and the professional experts' concerns were summarised and analysed based on clarity, understanding, relevance, sensitivity and alternative response/wording.
RESULTS: The main concerns emerging from the content validation related to the understanding and clarity of some of the questionnaire items', and a few concerns regarding the relevance of different response alternatives or items. Only two of the family members found it emotional to complete the questionnaire, and they still deemed completing it to be important and manageable.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: The VOICES (SF) can be considered as feasible in the Swedish context, provided that cultural adaptation has been achieved, that is translation alone is not enough. The Swedish version will be available for healthcare professionals to use for quality monitoring of the care provided over the last three months in life, and for research, it enables national and cross-national comparisons between different healthcare places and organisations.
The recruitment of participants to randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in palliative cancer care by health care professionals is often unsuccessful, which could result in failure to achieve study power. The purpose of this paper is to describe how health care professionals experienced recruiting patients and family caregivers to an RCT in palliative cancer care. The study had a qualitative explorative design. Ten palliative home care settings were involved in the RCT and data were generated through focus group discussions and interviews with health care professionals who were responsible for the recruitment. The transcripts were analyzed with interpretive descriptive principles. The experiences of the health care professionals reveal that communicating the RCT-design to patients and family caregivers was a challenging part of the recruitment but was considered a process of learning over time. The delicate situation that participants were living under added to the challenge and health care professionals believed that the randomized design was contrary to their normal approach to always offer the best possible support. The results contribute valuable knowledge for future trials in palliative cancer care. To promote successful recruitment, health care professionals may be in need of more training to improve their communication skills and it may be necessary to consider other research designs than the RCT.
BACKGROUND: Heart failure is a disease with high morbidity, mortality, and physical and psychological burden. More knowledge about the care provided for patients with heart failure close to death is needed.
OBJECTIVE: The aim was to describe key aspects of palliative care during the last week of life in patients with heart failure, as reported by healthcare professionals.
DESIGN: This is a national register study.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: The study included 3981 patients with diagnosed heart failure as the underlying cause of death.
MEASUREMENTS: Data were obtained from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care, a national quality register that focuses on patients' last week of life, independent of diagnosis or care setting. The register includes information about care interventions connected with key aspects of palliative care. Data are reported retrospectively by a nurse or physician at the healthcare unit where the patient dies.
RESULTS: Only 4.2% of patients with heart failure received specialized palliative care. In their last week of life, symptom prevalence was high, validated scales were seldom used, and symptoms were unsatisfactorily relieved. Around one-fifth (17%) of the patients in the study died alone. Less than half of family members had been offered bereavement support (45%). Moreover, one-third (28%) of the patients and more than half (61%) of the family members were reported to have had end-of-life discussions with a physician during the illness trajectory.
CONCLUSION: The results indicate inadequate palliative care for patients with heart failure during their last week of life.
CONTEXT: End-stage kidney disease (ESKD) is characterized by high physical and psychological burden and therefore, more knowledge about the palliative care provided close to death is needed.
OBJECTIVES: To describe symptom prevalence, relief and management during the last week of life, as well as end-of-life communication, in patients with ESKD.
METHODS: This study was based on data from the Swedish Register of Palliative Care. Patients aged 18 or older who died from a chronic kidney disease, with or without dialysis treatment (ICD-10-SE; N18.5 or N18.9), during 2011 and 2012 were selected.
RESULTS: 472 patients were included. Of six predefined symptoms, pain was the most prevalent (69%), followed by respiratory secretion (46%), anxiety (41%), confusion (30%), shortness of breath (22%), and nausea (17%). Of patients with pain and/or anxiety, 32% and 44% respectively were only partly relieved or not relieved at all. Of patients with the other symptoms, a majority (55%-84%) were partly relieved or not relieved at all. End-of-life discussions were reported in 41% of patients and 71% of families. A minority died in specialized palliative care: 8% in hospice/in-patient palliative care and 5% in palliative home care. Of all patients, 19% died alone. Bereavement support was offered to 38% of families.
CONCLUSION: Even if death is expected, the majority of patients dying with ESKD had unmet palliative care needs regarding symptom management, advance care planning, and bereavement support.
Objective: Their aim was to explore the presence of symptoms, symptom relief, and other key aspects of palliative care during the final week of life among older people residing in nursing homes.
Method: Our study employed data from the Swedish Palliative Care Register on all registered individuals aged 60 and older who had died in nursing homes during the years 2011 and 2012. Variables pertaining to monitoring and treatment of symptoms, end-of-life discussions, circumstances around the death, and the individual characteristics of deceased individuals were explored using descriptive statistics.
Results: The most common underlying causes of death among the 49,172 deceased nursing home residents were circulatory diseases (42.2%) and dementia (22.7%). The most prevalent symptom was pain (58.7%), followed by rattles (42.4%), anxiety (33.0%), confusion (21.8%), shortness of breath (14.0%), and nausea (11.1%). Pain was the symptom with the highest degree of total relief (46.3%), whereas shortness of breath and confusion were totally relieved in 6.1 and 4.3% of all individuals, respectively. The use of valid instruments for symptom assessment was reported for pain in 12.3% and for other symptoms in 7.8% of subjects. The most prevalent individual prescriptions for injection PRN (pro re nata, according to circumstances) were for pain treatment (79.5%) and rattles (72.8%). End-of-life discussions were performed with 27.3% of all the deceased individuals and with 53.9% of their relatives. Of all individuals, 82.1% had someone present at death, and 15.8% died alone. Of all the nursing home resident deaths recorded, 45.3% died in their preferred place.
Significance of results: There were large variations in degree of relief from different symptoms during the final week of life. Pain was the most prevalent symptom, and it was also the symptom with the highest proportion of total/partial relief. Other symptoms were less prevalent but also less well-relieved. Our results indicate a need for improvement of palliative care in nursing home settings, focusing on management of distressing symptoms and promotion of end-of-life discussions.