Objective: Patients want to discuss spirituality more with their doctors but feel disempowered. Question prompt lists (QPLs) assist conversations. This study assessed the impact of a QPL on spirituality discussions in Palliative Care (PC).
Methods: This was a sub-study of a trial in which PC patients were randomised to either receive a QPL prior to a consultation or not, to see whether its provision influenced advanced cancer patients'/caregivers' questions and discussion of topics relevant to end-of-life care during consultations with a PC physician. Consultations were recorded and transcribed. Transcriptions were analysed to examine the frequency and content of spirituality discussions. We conducted logistic regression to investigate the impact of the QPL and other predictors.
Results: 174 patients participated. Spirituality was discussed in half the consultations. Patients receiving a QPL discussed spirituality 1.38 times more than controls. This finding did not reach statistical significance. First PC consultation and being asked about their concerns by the doctor were significant predictors of a spiritual discussion.
Conclusion: Patients are more likely to discuss spirituality in their first PC consultation, and when their doctor asks them about their concerns.
Practice implications: Doctors caring for patients at the end of life should routinely raise spiritual issues.
PURPOSE: In the palliative oncology setting, genetic assessment may not impact on the patient's management but can be of vital importance to their surviving relatives. Despite care of the family being central to the ethos of palliative care, little is known about how hereditary aspects of cancer are addressed in this setting. This review aims to examine current practices, identify practice barriers and determine the genetic information and support needs of patients, family members and health providers.
METHODS: Key databases were systematically searched to identify both quantitative and qualitative studies that addressed these aims. Data was extracted and coded using thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Eight studies were included for review. Suboptimal genetic practices were identified, with lack of knowledge and poor confidence amongst providers reported as barriers in both qualitative and quantitative studies. Providers expressed concern about the emotional impact of initiating these discussions late in the disease trajectory; however, qualitative interviews amongst palliative patients suggested there may be emotional benefits.
CONCLUSIONS: All lines of evidence suggest that genetics is currently missing from the palliative agenda, signifying lost opportunities for mutation detection, genetic counselling and appropriate risk management for surviving relatives. There is an urgent need for interventions to improve provider knowledge and awareness of genetic referral pathways and for research into the genetic information and support needs of palliative care patients.