OBJECTIVE: To investigate whether and when palliative sedation was discussed with hospice patients with cancer and/or with their families and factors associated with patient involvement in such discussions.
METHODS: Medical records of all patients with cancer who died in an Italian hospice in 2014-2015 (N = 326) were retrospectively reviewed. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the association between patients' characteristics and palliative sedation discussion with the patient versus palliative sedation discussion only with the family.
RESULTS: Palliative sedation discussion was in 51.8% of the cases reported in the record. In most of the cases, discussions were conducted pre-emptively. Palliative sedation was used for 67.3% of the patients who were involved in the discussion and for 32.7% of the patients when the topic was discussed only with the family. Patient involvement in palliative sedation discussions was negatively associated with living with others (OR 0.34, CI 0.15; 0.77), and positively associated with awareness of prognosis (OR 5.61, CI 2.19; 14.33) and days of survival after hospice admission (OR 3.41, CI 1.55; 7.51).
CONCLUSION: Policies encouraging patient involvement in palliative care decision-making, including palliative sedation, should be implemented and their adoption should be carefully examined. Prospective studies addressing this topic are needed.