Introduction: Patients with advanced cancer often suffer from complex symptoms necessitating constant supervision and management. Primary care/family physicians act as an important bridge between the patients in the community and the specialists in the hospital ensuring continuity of care.
Materials and Methods: The present paper explored the facilitators and challenges in providing home-based palliative care as perceived by the primary care/family physicians (PCP/FP).
Results: 62 physicians reported that they were involved in palliative management of at least one cancer patient in the previous year. A significant number of GPs (34%) lacked confidence in providing this care because of patient complexity, inadequate training and insufficient resources. Other barriers included poor communication from specialists and treating teams. Factors facilitating provision of home-based palliative care included their willingness to help palliative care patients, their inclination to train in palliative care and enthusiasm to refer to guidelines while caring for patients.
Conclusion: It is explicit in the paper that resources with respect to information sharing and communication, technical support and training are essential to empower the PCP/FP in providing community-based palliative care.
The discrepancy in the demand for palliative care and distribution of specialist palliative care services will force patients to be eventually cared for by primary care/family physicians in the community. This will necessitate primary care/family physicians to equip themselves with knowledge and skills of primary palliative care. Indian National Health Policy (2017) recommended the creation of continuing education programs as a method to empower primary care/family physicians. With this intention, a taskforce was convened for incorporating primary palliative care into family/primary care practice. The taskforce comprising of National and International faculties from Palliative Care and Family Medicine published a position paper in 2018 and subsequently brainstormed on the competency framework required for empowering primary care/family physicians. The competencies were covered under the following domains: knowledge, skills and attitude, ethical and legal aspects, communication and team work. The competency framework will be presented to the National Board of Examinations recommending to be incorporated in the DNB curriculum for Family Medicine.
Purpose: This joint position statement, by the Indian Association of Palliative Care (IAPC) and Academy of Family Physicians of India (AFPI), proposes to address gaps in palliative care provision in the country by developing a community-based palliative care model that will empower primary care physicians to provide basic palliative care.
Evidence: India ranks very poorly, 67th of 80 countries in the quality of death index. Two-thirds of patients who die need palliative care and many such patients spend the last hours of life in the Intensive care unit. The Indian National Health Policy (NHP) 2017 and other international bodies endorse palliative care as an essential health-care service component. NHP 2017 also recommends development of distance and continuing education options for general practitioners to upgrade their skills to provide timely interventions and avoid unnecessary referrals.
Methods: A taskforce was formed with Indian and International expertise in palliative care and family medicine to develop this paper including an open conference at the IAPC conference 2017, agreement of a formal liaison between IAPC and AFPI and wide consultation leading to the development of this position paper aimed at supporting integration, networking, and joint working between palliative care specialists and generalists. The WHO model of taking a public health approach to palliative care was used as a framework for potential developments; policy support, education and training, service development, and availability of appropriate medicines.
Recommendations: This taskforce recommends the following (1) Palliative care should be integrated into all levels of care including primary care with clear referral pathways, networking between palliative care specialist centers and family medicine physicians and generalists in community settings, to support education and clinical services. (2) Implement the recommendations of NHP 2017 to develop services and training programs for upskilling of primary care doctors in public and private sector. (3) Include palliative care as a mandatory component in the undergraduate (MBBS) and postgraduate curriculum of family physicians. (4) Improve access to necessary medications in urban and rural areas. (5) Provide relevant in-service training and support for palliative care to all levels of service providers including primary care and community staff. (6) Generate public awareness about palliative care and empower the community to identify those with chronic disease and provide support for those choosing to die at home.
PURPOSE: Early palliative care is beneficial in advanced lung cancer patients. We aimed to assess the feasibility of introducing early palliative care in ambulatory advanced lung cancer patients in an Indian tertiary cancer center.
METHODOLOGY: In a longitudinal, single-arm, and single-center study, fifty patients were recruited and followed up every 3-4 weeks for 6 months, measuring the symptom burden using Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and quality of life (QoL) with European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer-QoL tools. The primary end point of feasibility was that at least 60% of the patients should complete 50% of the planned palliative care visits and over 50% of the patients should complete QoL questionnaires. Analysis was done using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 20.
RESULTS: Twenty-four of fifty patients (48%) completed the planned follow-up visits. All patients completed the questionnaires at baseline and 31 (62%) at their follow-up visits. The patients' main reasons for not following up in the hospital palliative care clinic were logistics and fatigue. Tiredness, pain, and appetite loss were the highest rated symptoms at baseline (ESAS scores 3, 2.2, and 2.1, respectively). Improvement in pain and anxiety scores at follow-up visits 1 and 2 was significant (P < 0.05). Scores on QoL functioning scales improved during the follow-up period.
CONCLUSIONS: We did not meet the feasibility criteria for the introduction of early palliative care in our advanced lung cancer patients in a resource-limited country.
Les auteurs (Centre médical Tata de Kolkata, Inde) discutent comment l'olanzapine, un médicament antipsychotique, a été administré avec succès chez trois patients souffrant d'un cancer avancé afin de soulager les nausées et vomissements réfractaires. Ils justifient également son utilisation.