To support the early integration of palliative home care (PHC) in cancer treatment, we developed the EPHECT intervention and pilot tested it with 30 advanced cancer patients in Belgium using a pre post design with no control group. We aim to determine the feasibility, acceptability and perceived effectiveness of the EPHECT intervention.
BACKGROUND: Advance care planning (ACP) supports individuals to define, discuss, and record goals and preferences for future medical treatment and care. Despite being internationally recommended, randomised clinical trials of ACP in patients with advanced cancer are scarce.
METHODS AND FINDINGS: To test the implementation of ACP in patients with advanced cancer, we conducted a cluster-randomised trial in 23 hospitals across Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, and United Kingdom in 2015-2018. Patients with advanced lung (stage III/IV) or colorectal (stage IV) cancer, WHO performance status 0-3, and at least 3 months life expectancy were eligible. The ACTION Respecting Choices ACP intervention as offered to patients in the intervention arm included scripted ACP conversations between patients, family members, and certified facilitators; standardised leaflets; and standardised advance directives. Control patients received care as usual. Main outcome measures were quality of life (operationalised as European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer [EORTC] emotional functioning) and symptoms. Secondary outcomes were coping, patient satisfaction, shared decision-making, patient involvement in decision-making, inclusion of advance directives (ADs) in hospital files, and use of hospital care. In all, 1,117 patients were included (442 intervention; 675 control), and 809 (72%) completed the 12-week questionnaire. Patients' age ranged from 18 to 91 years, with a mean of 66; 39% were female. The mean number of ACP conversations per patient was 1.3. Fidelity was 86%. Sixteen percent of patients found ACP conversations distressing. Mean change in patients' quality of life did not differ between intervention and control groups (T-score -1.8 versus -0.8, p = 0.59), nor did changes in symptoms, coping, patient satisfaction, and shared decision-making. Specialist palliative care (37% versus 27%, p = 0.002) and AD inclusion in hospital files (10% versus 3%, p < 0.001) were more likely in the intervention group. A key limitation of the study is that recruitment rates were lower in intervention than in control hospitals.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that quality of life effects were not different between patients who had ACP conversations and those who received usual care. The increased use of specialist palliative care and AD inclusion in hospital files of intervention patients is meaningful and requires further study. Our findings suggest that alternative approaches to support patient-centred end-of-life care in this population are needed.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN registry ISRCTN63110516.
BACKGROUND: Continuity of care is challenging when transferring patients across palliative care settings. These transfers are common due to the complexity of palliative care, which has increased significantly since the advent of palliative care services. It is unclear how palliative care services and professionals currently collaborate and communicate to ensure the continuity of care across settings, and how patient and family members are involved.
AIM: To explore healthcare professionals' experiences regarding the communicative aspects of inter-professional collaboration and the involvement of patient and family members.
DESIGN: Qualitative design, including focus group discussions.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The study focused on one palliative care network in Belgium and involved all palliative care settings: hospital, hospital's palliative care unit, home care, nursing home. Nine group discussions were conducted, with diverse professionals (n = 53) from different care settings.
RESULTS: Timely and effective inter-professional information exchange was considered fundamental. A perceived barrier for interprofessional collaboration was the lack of a shared electronic health record. Efficiency regarding multidisciplinary team meetings and inter-professional communication were subject to improvement.A striking study finding was the perceived insufficient open communication of specialists towards patients and the lack of shared decision making. This not only hampered advance care planning discussions and early integration of palliative home care, but also the functioning of other professionals.
CONCLUSION: From the perspective of the integrated care framework, several areas of improvement on different levels of care and collaboration are identified. Support from policymakers and researchers is required to achieve integrated palliative care in regional networks.
The number of residents in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) in need of palliative care is growing in the Western world. Therefore, it is foreseen that significantly higher percentages of budgets will be spent on palliative care. However, cost-effectiveness analyses of palliative care interventions in these settings are lacking. Therefore, the objective of this paper was to assess the cost-effectiveness of the ‘PACE Steps to Success’ intervention. PACE (Palliative Care for Older People) is a 1-year palliative care programme aiming at integrating general palliative care into day-to-day routines in LTCFs, throughout seven EU countries.
BACKGROUND: The attention of healthcare professionals is directed mainly towards the recipients of care and often insufficiently towards family carers. However, an effective collaboration between professionals and family carers is vital to provide quality palliative and end-of-life care. Such collaboration is under-studied in a palliative care context.
AIM: This study aimed to investigate how family carers of people who live at home with a life-limiting chronic illness experience and perceive collaboration with different healthcare professionals in the last phase of life.
DESIGN: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted with the primary family carers of people with a life-limiting chronic illness. Interpretative phenomenological analysis was used to analyse the data.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A heterogeneous sample of 30 family carers of people with cancer, heart failure or dementia was recruited through a variety of care providers and services, in order to reflect the heterogeneity of caregiving in serious illness.
RESULTS: Five main themes emerged from interpretative phenomenological analysis that describe the quality of the collaboration between family carers and professionals: respecting family carers both as someone with care needs and as a member of the care team; the continuous availability and accessibility of healthcare professionals; the provision of information and communication including family carer issues; the coordination of care between all parties and contextual factors. The dominant experience by family carers was one of missed opportunities across these themes.
CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study about the experiences and perceptions of family carers of people with a chronic life-limiting illness living at home regarding the collaboration with different healthcare providers in the last phase life, showed that family carers experience a lot of possibilities, but perceive missed opportunities as well, for healthcare professionals to effectively collaborate with them for palliative care.
Assisted dying practices, which include euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS), have expanded significantly around the world over the past 20 years. Euthanasia refers to the act of intentionally ending the life of a patient by a health care practitioner through medical means at that patient's explicit request while PAS involves the provision or prescribing of drugs by a health care practitioner for a patient to end their own life. The growing global aging population accompanied by higher levels of chronic disease and protracted illnesses have sharpened the focus on end of life issues and societal and legislative debates continue to address related moral and ethical complexities. Assisted dying practices are now legal in 18 jurisdictions, increasing the number of people with access to euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide (PAS) to over 200 million. New legislation is being crafted or considered in Portugal, Spain and 16 US states. Germany has recently overturned a ban on assisted dying services and New Zealand will put legalization of euthanasia to a vote in 2020. Assisted dying practice characteristics differ and there is also considerable variation in the terminology and labels used for assisted dying, which can add to the confusion and controversy around the practices. Frequency of use also varies greatly by jurisdiction, though a consistent increase has been seen in European countries including Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland as well as some jurisdictions with long-standing physician assisted dying laws, such as Oregon and Washington. All assisted dying legislation includes substantive and procedural requirements, such as minimum age, waiting period, health condition, physician consultation and reporting procedure, however, some are extensive and detailed while others are more limited. As access to assisted dying expands in new and existing jurisdictions, research must also expand to diligently examine the impact on patients, specifically among vulnerable populations, as well as on health care practitioners, health care systems and communities. This article will provide a thorough investigation, or 'status quaestionis' of the terminology, evolution and current legislative picture of assisted dying practices around the globe and contribute to the ongoing ethical, regulatory and practice debate, which have become increasingly important considerations for medical practice, end-of-life care and public health.
CONTEXT: Certain treatments are potentially inappropriate when administered to nursing homes residents at the end of life and should be carefully considered. An international comparison of potentially inappropriate treatments allows insight into common issues and country-specific challenges of end-of-life care in nursing homes and helps direct health care policy in this area.
OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of potentially inappropriate treatments in the last week of life in nursing home residents, and analyze the differences in prevalence between countries.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study of deceased residents in nursing homes (2015) in six European countries: Belgium (Flanders), England, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland. Potentially inappropriate treatments included: enteral administration of nutrition, parental administration of nutrition, artificial fluids, resuscitation, artificial ventilation, blood transfusion, chemotherapy/radiotherapy, dialysis, surgery, antibiotics, statins, antidiabetics, new oral anticoagulants. Nurses were questioned about whether these treatments were administered in the last week of life.
RESULTS: We included 1,384 deceased residents from 322 nursing homes. In most countries, potentially inappropriate treatments were rarely used, with a maximum of 18.3% of residents receiving at least one treatment in Poland. Exceptions were antibiotics in all countries (between 11.3% in Belgium and 45% in Poland), artificial nutrition and hydration in Poland (54.3%) and Italy (41%) and antidiabetics in Poland (19.7%).
CONCLUSION: Although the prevalence of potentially inappropriate treatments in the last week of life was generally low, antibiotics were frequently prescribed in all countries. In Poland and Italy, the prevalence of artificial administration of food/fluids in the last week of life was high, possibly reflecting country differences in legislation, care organization and culture, and the palliative care competences of staff.
OBJECTIVES: Most research on starting palliative care focuses on the role of healthcare services and professional carers. However, patients and their family carers may also play a role. Especially opportunities for starting palliative care might exist among family carers. This study focused on family carers by identifying their behaviours and underlying determinants that might contribute to starting palliative care.
METHODS: A qualitative study with 16 family carers of deceased persons who used palliative care was conducted using semistructured, face-to-face interviews. Constant comparison analysis was used to identify groups of behaviours that influenced starting palliative care and related determinants. The behavioural determinants were matched with concepts in existing behavioural theories. A preliminary behavioural model was developed.
RESULTS: Most reported behaviours regarding starting palliative care were related to communicating with the seriously ill person, other family members and professional carers; seeking information and helping the seriously ill person process information from professional carers; and organising and coordinating care. Determinants facilitating and hindering these behaviours included awareness (eg, of poor health), knowledge (eg, concerning palliative care), attitudes (eg, negative connotations of palliative care) and social influences (eg, important others' opinions about palliative care).
CONCLUSIONS: This study identified relevant family carers' behaviours and related determinants that can contribute to starting palliative care. As these determinants are changeable, the palliative care behavioural model that resulted from this study can serve as a basis for the development of behavioural interventions aiming at supporting family carers in performing behaviours that might contribute to starting palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Since its legalisation in 2002, the number of times euthanasia has been carried out in response to requests from adults with psychiatric conditions (APC) has continued to increase. However, little is known about why and how psychiatrists become engaged in the assessment of such euthanasia requests.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey study was conducted between November 2018 and April 2019 of 499 psychiatrists affiliated with the Flemish Psychiatry Association. Chi square/Fisher's exact tests were performed to examine if, and to what extent, psychiatrists' backgrounds relate to their concrete experiences. The answers to the open question regarding motives for (non-) engagement were thematically coded.
RESULTS: Two hundred one psychiatrists participated, a response rate of 40%. During their careers, 80% of those responding have been confronted with at least one euthanasia request from an APC patient and 73% have become involved in the assessment procedure. Their engagement was limited to the roles of: referring physician (in 44% of the psychiatrists), attending physician (30%), legally required 'advising physician' (22%), and physician participating in the actual administration of the lethal drugs (5%). Within the most recent 12 months of practice, 61% of the respondents have been actively engaged in a euthanasia assessment procedure and 9% have refused at least once to be actively engaged due to their own conscientious objections and/or the complexity of the assessment. The main motive for psychiatrists to engage in euthanasia is the patient's fundamental right in Belgian law to ask for euthanasia and the psychiatrist's duty to respect that. The perception that they were sufficiently competent to engage in a euthanasia procedure was greater in psychiatrists who have already had concrete experience in the procedure.
CONCLUSIONS: Although the majority of psychiatrists have been confronted with euthanasia requests from their APC patients, their engagement is often limited to referring the request to a colleague physician for further assessment. More research is needed to identify the determinants of a psychiatrist's engagement in euthanasia for their APC patients and to discover the consequences of their non-, or their restricted or full engagement, on both the psychotherapeutic relationship and the course of the euthanasia request.
OBJECTIVE: Volunteers are an important resource in bridging palliative care (PC) services and communities. However, no studies have systematically mapped volunteers' actual contributions to PC provision and how well they are supported by healthcare services at the volunteer level. Such insights are important to shape and optimise supportive environments for volunteering in PC. This study aimed to describe organised volunteering practices in PC across dedicated PC services and healthcare services providing generalist PC, in terms of tasks, training, supervision and how volunteers evaluate these.
METHODS: A cross-sectional postal survey of 2273 volunteers from healthcare organisations providing care for people with serious illnesses in the Flemish healthcare system (Belgium) was conducted between June and November 2018. A two-step cluster randomised sample was used. Volunteers were recruited through their respective volunteering organisations.
RESULTS: Response was obtained for 801 (35.2%) volunteers. Volunteers were predominantly women (75.5%), retired (70.8%) and aged 60-69 years (43.4%). Almost all volunteers provided psychosocial care (96.3%). Volunteers were found to provide either (1) broad volunteer support, emphasising psychosocial and existential care and signposting tasks or (2) narrow volunteer support, emphasising nursing care tasks. Nursing home volunteers had the lowest prevalence of PC training (7.7% vs 53.7% total, p<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Multidimensional support was most prevalent among dedicated PC volunteers, while practical support was most prevalent among sitting service volunteers. Results indicate that volunteers can offer complementary support for patients with serious illnesses, although this requires training and consistent supervision. This is currently suboptimal for volunteers in nursing homes and community home care.
BACKGROUND: Palliative and end-of-life care development is hindered by a lack of information about the circumstances surrounding dying in developing and resource-poor countries. Our aims were to develop and obtain face and content validity for a self-administered questionnaire on end-of-life care provision and medical decision-making for use in population-based surveys.
METHODS: Modelled on validated questionnaires from research in developed countries, our questionnaire was adapted to the cultural sensitivity and medico-legal context of Trinidad and Tobago. Two sets of semi-structured face-to-face cognitive interviews were done with a sample of physicians, sampling was purposive. Phase 1 assessed interpretation of the questions, terminology and content of the questionnaire. Phase 2 was tested on a heterogeneous group of physicians to identify and fix problematic questions or recurring issues. Adjustments were made incrementally and re-tested in successive interviews.
RESULTS: Eighteen physicians were interviewed nationwide. Adaptations to questionnaires used in developed countries included: addition of a definition of palliative care, change of sensitive words like expedited to influenced, adjustments to question formulations, follow-up questions and answer options on medications used were added, the sequence, title and layout were changed and instructions for completion were included at the beginning of the questionnaire.
CONCLUSION: A new instrument for assessing and documenting end-of-life care and circumstances of dying in a small, resource-poor Caribbean country was developed and validated, and can be readily used as a mortality follow-back instrument. Our methods and procedures of development can be applied as a guide for similar studies in other small developing countries.
BACKGROUND: Although the Belgian assessment pathway for legal euthanasia requires the engagement of at least one psychiatrist, little is known about psychiatrists' attitudes towards euthanasia for adults with psychiatric conditions (APC). This study aims to gauge psychiatrists' attitudes towards and readiness to engage in euthanasia assessment and/or performance procedures in APC.
METHODS: This cross-sectional survey study was performed between November 2018 and April 2019. The survey was sent to a sample of 499 eligible psychiatrists affiliated to the Flemish Association for Psychiatry, a professional association that aims to unite and represent all psychiatrists working in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking, northern part of Belgium. The Association's members comprise an estimated 80-90% of all psychiatrists active in Flanders. Only psychiatrists working with APC (83% of the association's total membership) were included. Factorial Anova and Chi Square tests were performed to examine if and to what extent psychiatrists' backgrounds were associated with, respectively, their attitudes and their readiness to play a role in euthanasia procedures concerning APC.
RESULTS: One hundred eighty-four psychiatrists completed the questionnaire (response rate 40.2%); 74.5% agree that euthanasia should remain permissible for APC. However, 68.9% question some of the approaches taken by other physicians during the euthanasia assessment and only half consider euthanasia assessment procedures compatible with the psychiatric care relationship. Where active engagement is concerned, an informal referral (68%) or preliminary advisory role (43.8%) is preferred to a formal role as a legally required advising physician (30.3%), let alone as performing physician (<10%).
CONCLUSION: Although three quarters agree with maintaining the legal option of euthanasia for APC, their readiness to take a formal role in euthanasia procedures appears to be limited. More insight is required into the barriers preventing engagement and what psychiatrists need, be it education or clarification of the legal requirements, to ensure that patients can have their euthanasia requests assessed adequately.
Background: There is an international drive towards increasing provision of community-led models of social and practical support for people living with advanced illness.
Aim: This feasibility project aims to develop, implement and evaluate a model of community volunteers, identified as Compassionate Communities Connectors, to support people living with advanced life limiting illnesses/palliative care needs. The aims also include the development and evaluation of a training programme for volunteers and assessment of the feasibility, acceptability and preliminary effectiveness of this model of care.
Methods: The approach seeks to map and mobilise people's personal networks of care through the Connectors enlisting Caring Helpers (community volunteers). Up to 10 Connectors will be trained to work with at least 30 families selected by the palliative care service as requiring support. The primary outcome is the effect of the intervention on social connectedness. Secondary outcomes are the intervention's effect on unplanned hospital utilisation, caregiver support needs, advance care plans and satisfaction with intervention for patients/carers, volunteers and service providers.
Conclusion: It is expected that this intervention will enhance patient, carer and family social, psychological and practical support and reduce the need for dying people to be admitted to a hospital.
OBJECTIVES: PACE Steps to Success is a 1-year train-the-trainer program aiming to integrate nonspecialist palliative care into nursing homes via staff education and organizational support. In this study, we aimed to explore whether this program resulted in changes in residents' hospital use and place of death.
DESIGN: Secondary analysis of the PACE cluster randomized controlled trial (ISRCTN14741671). Data were collected on deaths over the previous 4 months via questionnaires at baseline and postintervention.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Questionnaires were completed by the nurse/care-assistant most involved from 78 nursing homes in 7 European Union countries.
MEASURES: We measured number of emergency department visits, hospital admissions, length of hospital stay, and place of death. Baseline and postintervention scores between intervention and control groups were compared, and we conducted exploratory mixed-model analyses. We collected 551 out of 610 questionnaires at baseline and 984 out of 1178 at postintervention in 37 intervention and 36 control homes.
RESULTS: We found no statistical significant effects of the program on emergency department visits [odds ratio (OR) = 1.38, P = .32], hospital admissions (OR = 0.98, P = .93), length of hospital stay (geometric mean difference = 0.85, P = .44), or place of death (OR = 1.08, P = .80).
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: We found no effect of the PACE program on either hospital use in the last month of life or place of death. Although this may be related to implementation problems in some homes, the program might also require a more specific focus on managing acute end-of-life situations and a closer involvement of general practitioners or specialist palliative care services to influence hospital use or place of death.
BACKGROUND: Children with serious illness suffer from symptoms at the end of life that often fail to be relieved. An overview is required of healthcare interventions improving and decreasing quality of life (QOL) for children with serious illness at the end of life.
METHODS: A systematic review was performed in five databases, January 2000 to July 2018 without language limit. Reviewers selected quantitative studies with a healthcare intervention, for example, medication or treatment, and QOL outcomes or QOL-related measures, for example, symptoms, for children aged 1-17 years with serious illness. One author assessed outcomes with the QualSyst and GRADE (Grades of Recommendation, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation) Framework; two authors checked a 25% sample. QOL improvement or reduction was categorized.
RESULTS: Thirty-six studies met the eligibility criteria studying 20 unique interventions. Designs included 1 randomized controlled trial, 1 cross-sectional study, and 34 cohort studies. Patient-reported symptom monitoring increased QOL significantly in cancer patients in a randomized controlled trial. Dexmedetomidine, methadone, ventilation, pleurodesis, and palliative care were significantly associated with improved QOL, and chemotherapy, stem cell transplant, and hospitalization with reduced QOL, in cohort studies.
CONCLUSIONS: Use of patient-controlled symptom feedback, multidisciplinary palliative care teams with full-time practical support, inhalation therapy, and off-label sedative medication may improve QOL. Curative therapy may reduce QOL.
IMPACT: QOL for children at the end of life may be improved with patient-controlled symptom feedback, multidisciplinary palliative care teams with full-time practical support, inhalation therapy, and off-label sedative medication.QOL for children at the end of life may be reduced with therapy with a curative intent, such as curative chemotherapy or stem cell transplant.A comprehensive overview of current evidence to elevate currently often-failing QOL management for children at the end of life.New paradigm-level indicators for appropriate and inappropriate QOL management in children at the end of life.New hypotheses for future research, guided by the current knowledge within the field.Various healthcare interventions (as described above) could or might be employed as tools to provide relief in QOL management for children with serious illness, such as cancer, at the end of life, and therefore could be discussed in pediatrician end-of-life training to limit the often failed QOL management in this population, cave the one-size-fits-all approach for individual cases.Multidisciplinary team efforts and 24/7 presence, especially practical support for parents, might characterize effective palliative care team interventions for children with serious illness at the end of life, suggesting a co-regulating link between well-being of the child partly to that of the parentsHypothesis-oriented research is needed, especially for children with nonmalignant disorders, such as genetic or neurological disorders at the end of life, as well as QOL outcomes for intervention research and psychosocial or spiritual outcomes.
OBJECTIVE: Communication and patient-centred care are important determinants for timely initiation of palliative care. Therefore, we aimed to understand and explain the behaviour "starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer" from the perspective of people with incurable cancer.
METHODS: A qualitative study using semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 25 people with incurable cancer: 13 not (yet) receiving palliative care and 12 receiving palliative care; 4 started the conversation themselves. Determinants related to the defined behaviour were matched with concepts in existing behavioural theories.
RESULTS: Both positive and negative stances towards starting a conversation about palliative care with a professional carer were found. Influencing behavioural factors were identified, such as knowledge (e.g. about palliative care), attitude (e.g. association of palliative care with quality of life) and social influence (e.g. relationship with the professional carer). We modelled the determinants into a behavioural model.
CONCLUSION: The behavioural model developed helps to explain why people with incurable cancer do or do not start a conversation about palliative care with their professional carer. By targeting the modifiable determinants of the model, promising interventions can be developed to help patients taken the initiative in communication about palliative care with a professional carer.
BACKGROUND: Considering social cognitive theory and current literature about successful advance care planning in nursing homes, sufficient knowledge and self-efficacy are important preconditions for staff to be able to carry out advance care planning in practice.
AIM: Exploring to what extent nurses' knowledge about and self-efficacy is associated with their engagement in advance care planning in nursing homes.
DESIGN: Survey study as part of a baseline measurement of a randomised controlled cluster trial (NCT03521206).
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Nurses in a purposive sample of 14 nursing homes in Belgium.
METHODS: A survey was distributed among nurses, evaluating knowledge (11 true/false items), self-efficacy (12 roles and tasks on 10-point Likert-type scale) and six advance care planning practices (yes/no), ranging from performing advance care planning conversations to completing advance directives.
RESULTS: A total of 196 nurses participated (66% response rate). While knowledge was not significantly associated with advance care planning practices, self-efficacy was. One unit's increase in self-efficacy was statistically associated with an estimated 32% increase in the number of practices having carried out.
CONCLUSIONS: Nurses' engagement in advance care planning practices is mainly associated with their self-efficacy rather than their knowledge. Further research is necessary to improve the evidence regarding the causal relationship between constructs. However, these results suggest that educational programmes that focus solely on knowledge might not lead to increasing uptake of advance care planning in nurses.
OBJECTIVE: To examine trends in end-of-life communication with people with cancer in general practice.
METHODS: Mortality follow-back survey among general practitioners (GPs) in representative epidemiological surveillance networks in Belgium (BE), the Netherlands (NL) and Spain (ES) in 2009-2010 (ES: 2010-2011) and 2013-2014. Using a standardised form, GPs registered all deceased adult patients in their practice and reported for five end-of-life care topics whether they had been discussed with the patient. Non-sudden cancer deaths were included (n=2306; BE: 1233; NL: 729; ES: 344).
RESULTS: A statistically significant increase was found between 2009/2010 and 2014 in the prevalence of communication about diagnosis (from 84% to 94%) and options for end-of-life care (from 73% to 90%) in BE, and in GPs' awareness of patients' preferences for medical treatment and a proxy decision-maker in BE (from 41% and 20% up to 53% and 28%) and the NL (from 62% and 32% up to 70% and 52%). Communication about options for end-of-life care and psychosocial problems decreased in the NL (from 88% and 91% down to 73%) and ES (from 76% and 77% down to 26% and 39%).
CONCLUSION: Considerable change in GP-patient communication seems possible in a relatively short time span, but communication cannot be assumed to increase over time. Increasing specialisation of care and task differentiation may lead to new roles in communication for healthcare providers in primary and secondary care. Improved information sharing between GPs and other healthcare providers may be necessary to ensure that patients have the chance to discuss important end-of-life topics.
BACKGROUND: Valuable information for planning future end-of-life care (EOLC) services and care facilities can be gained by studying trends in place of death (POD). Scarce data exist on the POD in small developing countries. This study aims to examine shifts in the POD of all persons dying between 1999 and 2010 in Trinidad and Tobago, to draw conclusions about changes in the distribution of POD over time and the possible implications for EOLC practice and policy.
METHODS: A population-level analysis of routinely collected death certificate data of the most recent available fully coded years at the time of the study-1999 to 2010. Observed proportions for the POD of all deaths were standardised according to the age, sex and cause of death distribution in 1999. Trends for a subgroup of persons who died from causes indicative of a palliative care (PC) need were also examined.
RESULTS: The proportion of deaths in government hospitals increased from 48.9% to 55.4% and decreased from 38.7% to 29.7% at private homes. There was little variation between observed and standardised rates. The decrease in home deaths was stronger when the PC subcategory was considered, most notably from cancer.
CONCLUSION: Internationally, the proportion of deaths at institutions is increasing. A national strategy on palliative and EOLC is needed to facilitate the increasing number of people who seek EOLC at government hospitals in Trinidad and Tobago, including an investigation into the reasons for the trend. Alternatives to accommodate out-of-hospital deaths can be considered.
Background/objectives: Opioids relieve symptoms in terminal care. We studied opioid underuse in long-term care facilities, defined as residents without opioid prescription despite pain and/or dyspnoea, 3 days prior to death.
Design and setting: In a proportionally stratified randomly selected sample of long-term care facilities in six European Union countries, nurses and long-term care facility management completed structured after-death questionnaires within 3 months of residents’ death.
Measurements: Nurses assessed pain/dyspnoea with Comfort Assessment in Dying with Dementia scale and checked opioid prescription by chart review. We estimated opioid underuse per country and per symptom and calculated associations of opioid underuse by multilevel, multivariable analysis.
Results: nurses’ response rate was 81.6%, 95.7% for managers. Of 901 deceased residents with pain/dyspnoea reported in the last week, 10.6% had dyspnoea, 34.4% had pain and 55.0% had both symptoms. Opioid underuse per country was 19.2% (95% confidence interval: 12.9–27.2) in the Netherlands, 25.2% (18.3–33.6) in Belgium, 29.3% (16.9–45.8) in England, 33.7% (26.2–42.2) in Finland, 64.6% (52.0–75.4) in Italy and 79.1% (71.2–85.3) in Poland (p < 0.001). Opioid underuse was 57.2% (33.0–78.4) for dyspnoea, 41.2% (95% confidence interval: 21.9–63.8) for pain and 37.4% (19.4–59.6) for both symptoms (p = 0.013). Odds of opioid underuse were lower (odds ratio: 0.33; 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.54) when pain was assessed.
Conclusion: Opioid underuse differs between countries. Pain and dyspnoea should be formally assessed at the end-of-life and taken into account in physicians orders.