Purpose: The aim of this study was to compare symptom expression in advanced cancer patients with depression and anxiety and in patients with no such symptoms.
Methods: Secondary analysis of a previous study assessing the role of an acute palliative supportive care unit (APSCU) in a comprehensive cancer center. Patients completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) at admission (T0) and 7 days after or at discharge (T7).
Results: Three hundred-fourteen consecutive cancer patients admitted to the APSCU were surveyed. Eighty-six and 66 patients improved their level of depression and anxiety, respectively (passing from = 4 to 0–3, from T0 to T7), after that palliative care intervention resulted in a significant improvement of the other symptoms. Changes were statistically significant for both symptoms (P < 0.0005). Patients admitted for uncontrolled pain were more likely to be anxious, while patients admitted for other symptoms or end-of-life care were more likely to be depressed. The presence of anxiety and depression (= 4/10 on ESAS) was significantly associated with a higher level of symptom expression at admission and at T7 (P < 0.0005). In patients presenting both psychological symptoms, symptom expression was significantly more relevant in comparison with patients not reporting moderate-severe psychological symptoms. Pain and depression were independently associated with anxiety at T0. Variables independently associated with depression at T0 were drowsiness, appetite, and anxiety.
Conclusions: Psychological symptoms of ESAS concur to hyper-express some symptoms and make symptom control more difficult. A clear association between anxiety and depression exists.
AIM: The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between delirium and symptom expression in patients with advanced cancer admitted to an acute supportive/palliative care unit (ASPCU).
METHODS: A consecutive sample of patients with advanced cancer who were admitted to an ASPCU was prospectively assessed for a period of 10 months. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the MDAS (Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale) were measured at admission (T0) and after 7 days of palliative care (T7).
RESULTS: Two hundred forty-six patients had complete data regarding MDAS measurements, at either T0 and T7. Of these, 75 (30.5%) and 63 patients (25.6%) had delirium at T0 and after a week of palliative care (T7), with a decrease in the frequency of delirium of 4.9% (from 30.5% to 25.6%); that means that 16% of patients with delirium improved their cognitive status after initiation of palliative care. Intensities of pain, depression, poor well-being, and global ESAS were significantly higher in patients with delirium. Patients who did not have delirium at T0 but developed delirium during admission after 1 week of palliative care had a higher level of symptom expression for pain, weakness, nausea, anxiety, dyspnea, appetite, and consequently global ESAS. Patients who did not develop delirium at any time had a relevant decrease in intensity of all ESAS items after 1 week of palliative care. The decrease of symptom intensity was significant for pain, insomnia, appetite, poor well-being, and global ESAS in patients with delirium either at T0 and T7, although these differences were less relevant than those observed in patients without delirium. In patients with delirium at T0 who improved their cognitive function at T7 (no delirium), significant changes were found in most ESAS items.
CONCLUSION: Symptom expression is amplified in patients with delirium, whereas patients without delirium may be more responsive to palliative treatments with a significant decrease in intensity of ESAS items.
IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Symptom expression is amplified in patients with cancer who have delirium, whereas patients without delirium may be more responsive to palliative treatments with a significant decrease in symptom intensity.
Palliative care is patient and family-centered care that optimizes quality of life by anticipating, preventing, and treating suffering when "curative" therapies are futile. In the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), critically ill patients receive life-sustaining therapies with the goal of restoring or maintaining organ function. Palliative Care in the ICU is a widely discussed topic and it is increasingly applied in clinics. It encompasses symptoms control and end-of-life management, communication with relatives and setting goals of care ensuring dignity in death and decision-making power. However, effective application of Palliative Care in ICU presupposes specific knowledge and training which anesthesiologists and critical care physicians may lack. Moreover, logistic issues such protocols for patients' selection, application models and triggers for consultation of external experts are still matter of debate.The aim of this review is to provide the anesthesiologists and intensivists an overview of the aims, current evidence and practical advices about the application of palliative care in ICU.
BACKGROUND: The aim of this paper is to collect data on the practice of palliative care, withholding and withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies, and management of end of life (EOL) in Italian intensive care units (ICUs).
METHODS: Web-based survey among Italian anesthesiologists endorsed by the Italian Society of Anesthesiology Analgesia Reanimation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI). The survey consists of 27 close-ended and 2 open-ended questions.
RESULTS: Eight hundred and five persons responded to the full list of questions. The highest proportion of respondents was of 36-45 years of age (34%) and catholic (66%). Almost 70% of responders declared that palliative/supportive care are applied in their ICU in case of futility of intensive treatments. Decision on withdrawing/withholding of life-sustaining treatments resulted from team consensus in most cases (58%). In more than 70% of responders' ICUs, there is no collaboration with palliative/supportive care experts. Systematic recording of most frequent symptoms experienced by critically ill patients (e.g., pain, dyspnea, thirst) was not common. Vasopressors, extracorporeal therapies, blood component transfusions and invasive monitoring were the most commonly modified/interrupted measures in case of futility. Almost 85% of respondents have not received training in palliative/supportive care. The proportion of respondents whose institution has a palliative care team and who had training in palliative care was not homogenous across the country.
CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that training in palliative care and its clinical application should be implemented in Italy. Efforts should be made to improve and homogenize the management of dying patients in ICU.
Background: Delirium is often unrecognized in cancer patients. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of delirium assessed by the Memorial Delirium Assessment Scale (MDAS) and possible associated factors on admission to an acute palliative/supportive care unit (APSCU). The secondary outcome was to assess changes in MDAS and symptom burden at time of discharge.
Methods: A consecutive sample of advanced cancer patients who were admitted to an APSCU was prospectively assessed for a period of 10 months. Patient demographics, including age, gender, primary diagnosis, Karnofsky status, stage of disease, and educational level were collected. The Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and the MDAS were measured at hospital admission and discharge.
Results: A total of 314 patients were surveyed. Of 292 patients with MDAS available at T0, 74 (25.3%) and 24 (8.2%) had a MDAS of 7-12 and >=13, respectively. At discharge, there was a significant decrease in the number of patients with a MDAS >=7/30. Higher values of MDAS were associated with age (p = .028), a lower Karnofsky status (p < .0005), gender (male, p = .04), low level of education (p = .002), less awareness of disease (p < .0005), more indications for end-of-life care admission (p < .0005) or other symptoms (p = .026), hospital stay (p = .038) and death (p < .0005). Significant decreases in ESAS were observed in all patients independently of MDAS values (p < .0005).
Conclusion: Delirium is highly prevalent in patients admitted to APSCU, characterized by a low mortality due to early referral. Comprehensive assessment and treatment may allow a decrease in the level of cognitive disorders and symptom burden.