Background: Nearly 3 million U.S. family caregivers support someone with cancer. However, oncology clinic-based service lines that proactively screen, assess, and support cancer caregivers are nearly nonexistent.
Objective: To examine first-year experiences of a nurse-led clinic-based telehealth support service (FamilyStrong) for family caregivers of patients with recently diagnosed grade IV brain tumors.
Methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of operational outcomes from initial implementation of the FamilyStrong Service, developed in partnership with Caregiver and Bereavement Support Services at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care. From August 2018 to December 2019, 53 family caregivers were proactively identified and enrolled by a palliative care nurse, working approximately one day/week, who performed monthly caregiver distress thermometer screenings by phone and provided emotional, educational, problem-solving, and referral support.
Results: Enrolled family caregivers were a mean age of 53.5 years and mostly female (62.3%), full- or part-time employed (67.9%), and the patient's spouse/partner (79.3%). Caregivers provided support 6.7 days/week for 11.2 hours/day. The palliative care nurse performed 235 distress screenings and provided support that included 68 documented instances of emotional, problem-solving, and educational support, 41 nurse-facilitated communications with the neuro-oncology team about patient issues, and 24 referrals to UAB and community services (e.g., counseling). The most common problems caregivers wanted assistance with included: managing their relative's health condition and symptoms (51%), coordinating care/services (21%), and planning for the future/advance care planning (17%).
Discussion: The FamilyStrong Program is among the first "real world" oncology clinic-based formal support services for advance cancer family caregivers.
Importance: National guidelines recommend early palliative care for patients with advanced heart failure, which disproportionately affects rural and minority populations.
Objective: To determine the effect of an early palliative care telehealth intervention over 16 weeks on the quality of life, mood, global health, pain, and resource use of patients with advanced heart failure.
Design, Setting, and Participants: A single-blind, intervention vs usual care randomized clinical trial was conducted from October 1, 2015, to May 31, 2019, among 415 patients 50 years or older with New York Heart Association class III or IV heart failure or American College of Cardiology stage C or D heart failure at a large Southeastern US academic tertiary medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center serving high proportions of rural dwellers and African American individuals.
Interventions: The ENABLE CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers) intervention comprises an in-person palliative care consultation and 6 weekly nurse-coach telephonic sessions (20-40 minutes) and monthly follow-up for 48 weeks.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Primary outcomes were quality of life (as measured by the Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire [KCCQ]: score range, 0-100; higher scores indicate better perceived health status and clinical summary scores =50 are considered “fairly good” quality of life; and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy–Palliative-14 [FACIT-Pal-14]: score range, 0-56; higher scores indicate better quality of life) and mood (as measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Global Health), pain (Patient Reported Outcome Measurement System Pain Intensity and Interference), and resource use (hospital days and emergency department visits).
Results: Of 415 participants (221 men; baseline mean [SD] age, 63.8 [8.5] years) randomized to ENABLE CHF-PC (n = 208) or usual care (n = 207), 226 (54.5%) were African American, 108 (26.0%) lived in a rural area, and 190 (45.8%) had a high-school education or less, and a mean (SD) baseline KCCQ score of 52.6 (21.0). At week 16, the mean (SE) KCCQ score improved 3.9 (1.3) points in the intervention group vs 2.3 (1.2) in the usual care group (difference, 1.6; SE, 1.7; d = 0.07 [95% CI, -0.09 to 0.24]) and the mean (SE) FACIT-Pal-14 score improved 1.4 (0.6) points in the intervention group vs 0.2 (0.5) points in the usual care group (difference, 1.2; SE, 0.8; d = 0.12 [95% CI, -0.03 to 0.28]). There were no relevant between-group differences in mood (HADS-anxiety, d = -0.02 [95% CI, –0.20 to 0.16]; HADS-depression, d = –0.09 [95% CI, –0.24 to 0.06]).
Conclusions and Relevance: This randomized clinical trial with a majority African American sample and baseline good quality of life did not demonstrate improved quality of life or mood with a 16-week early palliative care telehealth intervention. However, pain intensity and interference (secondary outcomes) demonstrated a clinically important improvement.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents unique challenges to those who work with the seriously ill population, including both health care providers and the family caregivers providing unpaid care. We rely on this lay workforce as health care routinely transitions care to the home, and now more than ever, we are depending on them in the current pandemic. As palliative care and other health care providers become overwhelmed with patients critically ill with COVID-19, and routine care becomes delayed, we have a charge to recognize and work with family caregivers. Our commentary provides rationale for the need to focus on family caregivers and key considerations for how to include them in pandemic clinical decision making.
With the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and associated deaths rising exponentially, social fabrics on a global scale are being worn by panic, uncertainty, fear, and other consequences of the health care crisis. Comprising more than half of the global health care workforce and the highest proportion of direct patient care time than any other health professional, nurses are at the forefront of this crisis. Throughout the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, palliative nurses will increasingly exercise their expertise in symptom management, ethics, communication, and end-of-life care, among other crucial skills. The literature addressing the palliative care response to COVID-19 has surged, and yet, there is a critical gap regarding the unique contributions of palliative nurses and their essential role in mitigating the sequelae of this crisis. Thus, the primary aim herein is to provide recommendations for palliative nurses and other health care stakeholders to ensure their optimal value is realized and to promote their well-being and resilience during COVID-19 and, by extension, in anticipation of future public health crises.
Background: End-of-life (EOL) quality markers in adult oncology include home death and intensive care unit avoidance. Corresponding markers are lacking in pediatric oncology. This study was aimed at describing bereaved parents' perspectives of high-quality EOL care in pediatric oncology.
Methods: this study enrolled a convenience sample of 28 bereaved parents (English- or Spanish-speaking) whose children (0-21 years old) had died of cancer =6 months before. Semistructured interviews were conducted to elicit parental perceptions of medically intense/quality EOL care. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim (30 hours), and study team consensus and content analyses identified themes related to EOL quality markers. Related quotes were scored on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (supported comfort care) to 5 (supported medically aggressive care).
Results: The children died in 1998-2017 at a mean age of 10 years (SD, 5.2 years); 50% had a solid tumor, and 46% were Spanish-speaking. Themes included 1) home death preference (unless home support was inadequate; median score, 1.6), nonaggressive care (median score, 2.4), and continued anticancer therapy (median score, 3.2); 2) programs/policies that could alleviate barriers limiting a family's time with a dying child (visiting restrictions and financial strains); 3) the need to prepare the family for death (eg, what would happen to the child's body), and 4) perceived abandonment.
Conclusions: This is the first qualitative study to identify quality makers for children dying of cancer from bereaved parents' perspectives. Natural death is generally preferred, and quality measures that address barriers to parents' spending time with their children, a lack of preparation for the events surrounding death, and feelings of abandonment are critical. Future studies need to validate these findings and develop targeted interventions.
Importance: Family caregivers of persons with advanced heart failure perform numerous daily tasks to assist their relatives and are at high risk for distress and poor quality of life.
Objective: To determine the effect of a nurse-led palliative care telehealth intervention (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends Comprehensive Heart Failure for Patients and Caregivers [ENABLE CHF-PC]) on quality of life and mood of family caregivers of persons with New York Heart Association Class III/IV heart failure over 16 weeks.
Design, Setting, and Participants: This single-blind randomized clinical trial enrolled caregivers aged 18 years and older who self-identified as an unpaid close friend or family member who knew the patient well and who was involved with their day-to-day medical care. Participants were recruited from outpatient heart failure clinics at a large academic tertiary care medical center and a Veterans Affairs medical center from August 2016 to October 2018.
Intervention: Four weekly psychosocial and problem-solving support telephonic sessions lasting between 20 and 60 minutes facilitated by a trained nurse coach plus monthly follow-up for 48 weeks. The usual care group received no additional intervention.
Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcomes were quality of life (measured using the Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale), mood (anxiety and/or depressive symptoms measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and burden (measured using the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales) over 16 weeks. Secondary outcomes were global health (measured using the PROMIS Global Health instrument) and positive aspects of caregiving.
Results: A total of 158 family caregivers were randomized, 82 to the intervention and 76 to usual care. The mean (SD) age was 57.9 (11.6) years, 135 (85.4%) were female, 82 (51.9%) were African American, and 103 (65.2%) were the patient’s spouse or partner. At week 16, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score was 66.9 (2.1) in the intervention group and 63.9 (1.7) in the usual care group; over 16 weeks, the mean (SE) Bakas Caregiver Outcomes Scale score improved 0.7 (1.7) points in the intervention group and 1.1 (1.6) points in the usual care group (difference, -0.4; 95% CI, -5.1 to 4.3; Cohen d = -0.03). At week 16, no relevant between-group differences were observed between the intervention and usual care groups for the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, 0.3 [0.3] vs 0.4 [0.3]; difference, -0.1 [0.5]; d = -0.02) or depression measure (mean [SE] improvement from baseline, -0.2 [0.4] vs -0.3 [0.3]; difference, 0.1 [0.5]; d = 0.03). No between-group differences were observed in the Montgomery-Borgatta Caregiver Burden scales (d range, -0.18 to 0.0). Differences in secondary outcomes were also not significant (d range, -0.22 to 0.0).
Conclusions and Relevance: This 2-site randomized clinical trial of a telehealth intervention for family caregivers of patients with advanced heart failure, more than half of whom were African American and most of whom were not distressed at baseline, did not demonstrate clinically better quality of life, mood, or burden compared with usual care over 16 weeks. Future interventions should target distressed caregivers and assess caregiver effects on patient outcomes.
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE: A priority focus on palliative and supportive care is helping the 43.5 million caregivers who care for individuals with serious illness. Lacking support may lead to caregiver distress and poorer care delivery to patients with serious illness. We examined the potential of instrumental support (assistance with material and task performance) to mitigate distress among caregivers.
METHOD: We analyzed data from the nationally representative Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS V2, 2018). Informal/family caregivers were identified in HINTS V2 if they indicated they were caring for or making healthcare decisions for another adult with a health problem. We used the PROMIS® instrumental support four-item short-form T-scores and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-4) for distress. We examined multivariable linear regression models for associations between distress and instrumental support, adjusted for sampling weights, socio-demographics, and caregiving variables (care recipient health condition(s), years caregiving (=2), relationship to care recipient, and caregiver burden). We examined interactions between burden and instrumental support on caregiver distress level.
RESULTS: Our analyses included 311 caregivers (64.8% female, 64.9% non-Hispanic White). The unweighted mean instrumental support T-score was 50.4 (SD = 10.6, range = 29.3-63.3); weighted mean was 51.2 (SE = 1.00). Lower instrumental support (p < 0.01), younger caregiver age (p < 0.04), higher caregiving duration (p = 0.008), and caregiver unemployment (p = 0.006) were significantly associated with higher caregiver distress. Mean instrumental support scores by distress levels were 52.3 (within normal limits), 49.4 (mild), 48.9 (moderate), and 39.7 (severe). The association between instrumental support and distress did not differ by caregiver burden level.
CONCLUSIONS: Poor instrumental support is associated with high distress among caregivers, suggesting the need for palliative and supportive care interventions to help caregivers leverage instrumental support.
Mounting evidence supports oncology organizations' recommendations of early palliative care as a cancer care best practice for patients with advanced cancer and/or high symptom burden. However, few trials on which these best practices are based have included rural and remote community-based oncology care. Therefore, little is known about whether early palliative care models are applicable in these low-resource areas. This literature synthesis identifies some of the challenges of integrating palliative care in rural and remote cancer care. Prominent themes include being mindful of rural culture; adapting traditional geographically based specialty care delivery models to under-resourced rural practices; and using novel palliative care education delivery methods to increase community-based health professional, layperson, and family palliative expertise to account for limited local specialty palliative care resources. Although there are many limitations, many rural and remote communities also have strengths in their capacity to provide high-quality care by capitalizing on close-knit, committed community practitioners, especially if there are receptive local palliative and hospice care champions. Hence, adapting palliative care models, using culturally appropriate novel delivery methods, and providing remote education and support to existing community providers are promising advances to aid rural people to manage serious illness and to die in place. Reformulating health policy and nurturing academic-community partnerships that support best practices are critical components of providing early palliative care for everyone everywhere.
The purpose of this update is to summarize and critique research articles in Hospice and Palliative Care from 2018 that are pertinent and impactful in informing clinical practice. The articles were presented at the 2019 Annual Assembly of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA). Eight original research articles published between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018, were identified through a systematic PubMed search using the terms "hospice" and "palliative care," a hand search of 22 leading healthcare journals, and discussion with experts in the field. The final articles were chosen based on each study's methodological quality, its ability to be applied across different care settings, and its ability to impact clinical practice. We summarize the eight articles that were chosen and identify ways the articles can be used to inform clinical practice.
Building on the strong work of previous research agendas (2009-2012, 2012-2015, 2015-2018), the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association Research Advisory Council developed the 2019-2022 Research Agenda in consultation with Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA) membership and assessment of major trends in palliative nursing. The HPNA Research Advisory Council identified 5 priority areas and asked subject experts in each area to summarize the state of the science, identify critical gaps, and provide recommendations for future research. This document expands the executive summary published on the HPNA website (www.advancingexpertcare.org/hpna/) and provides supporting evidence for the 2019-2022 recommendations. The 5 priority areas are as follows: (1) pediatric hospice and palliative nursing research; (2) family caregiving; (3) interprofessional education and collaborative practice; (4) big data science, precision health, and nursing informatics; and (5) implementation science.
RATIONALE: Little direction exists on how to integrate early palliative care in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
OBJECTIVES: To identify patient and family caregiver early palliative care needs across stages of COPD severity.
METHODS: As part of the Medical Research Council Framework developmental phase for intervention development, we conducted a formative evaluation study of patients with moderate to very severe COPD (FEV1/FVC < 70% and FEV1 < 80%-predicted) and their family caregivers. Validated surveys on quality of life (QOL), anxiety and depressive symptoms, and social isolation quantified symptom severity. Semi-structured interviews were analyzed for major themes on early palliative care and needs in patients and family caregivers and across COPD severity stages.
RESULTS: Patients (n=10) were a mean (±SD) age of 60.4±7.5 years, 50% African American, and 70% male, with 30% having moderate COPD, 30% severe COPD, and 40% very severe COPD. Family caregivers (n=10) were a mean age of 58.3±8.7 years, 40% African American, and 10% male. Overall, 30% (n=6) of participants had poor QOL, 45% (n=9) had moderate-severe anxiety symptoms, 25% (n=5) had moderate-severe depressive symptoms, and 40% (n=8) reported social isolation. Only 30% had heard of palliative care, and most participants had misconceptions that palliative care was end-of-life care. All participants responded positively to a standardized description of early palliative care and were receptive to its integration as early as moderate stage. Five broad themes of early palliative care needs emerged: 1) coping with COPD; 2) emotional symptoms; 3) respiratory symptoms; 4) illness understanding; and 5) prognostic awareness. Coping with COPD and emotional symptoms were commonly shared early palliative care needs. Patients with very severe COPD and their family caregivers prioritized illness understanding and prognostic awareness compared to those with moderate-severe COPD.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with moderate to very severe COPD and their family caregivers found early palliative care acceptable and felt it should be integrated before end-stage disease. Of the five broad themes of early palliative care needs, coping with COPD and emotional symptoms were the highest priority, followed by respiratory symptoms, illness understanding, and prognostic awareness.
BACKGROUND: Although palliative care is expanding globally for patients with serious illness, Turkey has not had widespread integration of early concurrent oncology palliative care. Hence, adapting and testing models of concurrent oncology palliative care for Turkish patients is imperative. Furthermore, it is critical that these care models also address the needs of family caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: To assess needs and elicit suggestions that would inform the adaptation of the ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) evidence-based early palliative care model for Turkish family caregivers of older persons with cancer.
METHODS: Formative evaluation study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 primary family caregivers of older individuals with cancer. Thematic analyses yielded themes in four domains: meaning of caregiving, effect of caregiving, education and consulting needs, and preferences about the delivery of the ENABLE model of palliative care support.
RESULTS: Caregivers described the impact of the cancer on their daily lives and responsibilities in the areas of physical, psychological, work, social, and family life. Caregivers emphasized their needs for information about symptoms, physical care, cancer pathology, and prognosis. Regarding the ENABLE model of early concurrent palliative care, participants wanted encounters to be in-person with educational material support that was simple and focused on disease information (prognosis, medication, handling emergency situations), psychological support, caring, nutrition, and acquiring community services.
CONCLUSION: Themes from this study will be used to modify the ENABLE intervention protocol for future pilot and efficacy testing in Turkish caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this update, presented at the 2018 Annual Assembly of the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association (HPNA), is to identify, summarize, and critique a sampling of recent research that has the potential for marked impact on hospice and palliative clinical practice.
METHODS: In a departure from previous years, we surveyed AAHPM and HPNA members to determine focused topic areas, from which we selected candidate articles. The two topic areas selected by the membership were "Moving into the great beyond: bringing palliative care into the subspecialties" and "Improving the conversation for patients with serious illness." Seven reports of original research published between January 1, 2012 and November 3, 2017 were identified through a systematic search of relevant databases, hand searching of leading journals, and discussion with experts in the field. Candidate articles were scored and ranked independently by four reviewers based on methodological quality, appeal to a breadth of palliative care clinicians across settings, and potential for impact.
RESULTS: We summarize the seven articles with the highest ratings.
OBJECTIVE: Despite their key role in caring for individuals with serious, chronic illness, there have been no national studies examining family caregiver awareness and perceptions of palliative care. Hence, our objectives were to ascertain level of knowledge of palliative care among U.S. family caregivers and describe demographic variation in awareness and perceptions of palliative care.
METHOD: Using the 2018 National Cancer Institute Health Information National Trends Survey, we identified unpaid family caregivers caring or making healthcare decisions for someone with a medical, behavioral, disability, or other condition. Respondents were asked about their awareness of the term "palliative care" and, if aware, how much they agreed with statements representing common (mis)perceptions about palliative care (e.g., "Palliative care is the same as hospice"). Result: More than one-half of caregivers (55%) had "never heard" of palliative care; 19.2% knew what palliative care was and "could explain it to someone else." In adjusted models, racial minorities (vs. whites) and those without a college degree were less likely to have heard of palliative care. Among those aware of palliative care, ~40% "strongly" or "somewhat" agreed that "Palliative care is the same as hospice"; another 10.5% "didn't know." Similarly, 40% reported that "When I think of palliative care, I automatically think of death."
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS : One-half of family caregivers of adults with serious chronic illness have never heard of palliative care. Even among those who had heard of palliative care, the majority do not distinguish it from hospice care and death. Given the role family caregivers may play in decisions to access palliative care, public messaging efforts are needed to clarify palliative care services in a way that is patient- and family-centered.
OBJECTIVE: To examine a rural-serving HBPC program's 12-year experience and historical trends to inform future program direction and expansion.
BACKGROUND: There is limited information about longitudinal trends in mature hospital-based palliative care (HBPC) programs serving racially diverse rural populations.
METHODS: This is a retrospective cross-sectional study of operational and patient-reported outcomes from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Center for Palliative and Supportive Care (CPSC) inpatient (n=11,786) and outpatient (n=315) databases from October 2004 to March 2016.
RESULTS: Inpatients were a mean age of 63.7 years, male (50.1%), white (62.3%), general medicine referred (19.5%), primarily for goals of care (84.4%); 47.1% had "do not resuscitate/do not intubate" status and 46.9% were transferred to the Palliative Care and Comfort Unit (PCCU) after consultation. Median time from admission to consultation was three days, median PCCU length of stay (LOS) was four days, and median hospital LOS was nine days. Increased emergency department and cardiology referrals were notable in later years. Outpatients' mean age was 53.02 years, 63.5% were female, 76.8% were white, and 75.6% had a cancer diagnosis. Fatigue, pain, and disturbed sleep were the most common symptoms at the time of the visit; 34.6% reported mild-to-moderate depressive symptoms. Of patients reporting pain (64.8%), one-third had 50% or less relief from pain treatment.
DISCUSSION: The CPSC, which serves a racially diverse rural population, has demonstrated robust growth. We are poised to scale and spread our lessons learned to underserved communities.
AIMS: Numerous healthcare decisions are faced by persons with advanced cancer from diagnosis to end-of-life. The family caregiver role in these decisions has focused on being a surrogate decision-maker, however, little is known about the caregiver's role in supporting upstream patient decision-making. We aimed to describe the roles of family caregivers in assisting community-dwelling advanced cancer patients with healthcare decision-making across settings and contexts.
METHODS: Qualitative study using one-on-one, semi-structured interviews with community-dwelling persons with metastatic cancer (n = 18) and their family caregivers (n = 20) recruited from outpatient oncology clinics of a large tertiary care academic medical center, between October 2016 and October 2017. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using a thematic analysis approach.
FINDINGS: Caregivers averaged 56 years and were mostly female (95%), white (85%), and the patient's partner/spouse (70%). Patients averaged 58 years and were mostly male (67%) in self-reported "fair" or "poor" health (50%) with genitourinary (33%), lung (17%), and hematologic (17%) cancers. Themes describing family member roles in supporting patients' upstream healthcare decision-making were: 1) seeking information about the cancer, its trajectory, and treatments options; 2) ensuring family and healthcare clinicians have a common understanding of the patient's treatment plan and condition; 3) facilitating discussions with patients about their values and the framing of their illness; 5) posing "what if" scenarios about current and potential future health states and treatments; 6) addressing collateral decisions (e.g., work arrangements) resulting from medical treatment choices; 6) originating healthcare-related decision points, including decisions about seeking emergency care; and 7) making healthcare decisions for patients who preferred to delegate healthcare decisions to their family caregivers.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight a previously unreported and understudied set of critical decision partnering roles that cancer family caregivers play in patient healthcare decision-making. Optimizing these roles may represent novel targets for early decision support interventions for family caregivers.
BACKGROUND: In 2016, Kavalieratos and colleagues performed a systematic review of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) of palliative care (PC) interventions. The majority of RCTs included focused on oncology, with fewer in heart failure (HF). Cancer patients' often predictable decline differs from the variable illness trajectories of HF; however, both groups experience similar palliative needs, and accordingly, PC in HF continues to grow.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate if PC interventions differ between cancer and HF patients.
DESIGN: In this secondary analysis, we compare PC interventions for cancer and HF patients evaluated in the 2016 systematic review. Settings/Subjects: We included a total of 25 trials, 19 of which included 3730 cancer patients, and 6 of which included 1049 HF patients (mean age, 67 years).
MEASUREMENTS: We compared the following five characteristics among included trials: PC domains addressed, duration, location, provider specialization, and measured outcomes.
RESULTS: The content of the cancer and HF interventions was similar. HF interventions tended to include more home-based (50% vs. 37%) and specialty PC interventions (67% vs. 47%), although these results did not reach statistical significance. Both cancer and HF interventions favored longer durations (i.e., more than one month; 79% and 67%). No HF intervention RCTs included caregiver outcomes, whereas 32% of cancer interventions did.
CONCLUSIONS: There were no substantial differences in content of cancer and HF interventions, although the latter tended to be delivered by PC specialists at home. There is a need for scalable interventions that incorporate the needs and preferences of individual patients, regardless of diagnosis.
CONTEXT: Being diagnosed with cancer often forces patients and families to make difficult medical decisions. How patients think they and others will feel in the future, termed affective predictions, may influence these decisions. These affective predictions are often biased, which may contribute to suboptimal care outcomes by influencing decisions related to palliative care and advance care planning.
OBJECTIVES: This paper aims to translate perspectives from the decision sciences to inform future research about when and how affective predictions may influence decisions about palliative care and advance care planning.
METHODS: A systematic search of two databases to evaluate the extent to which affective predictions have been examined in the palliative care and advance care planning context yielded 35 relevant articles. Over half utilized qualitative methodologies (n = 21). Most studies were conducted in the United States (n = 12), Canada (n = 7) or European countries (n = 10). Study contexts included: EOL (n = 10), early treatment decisions (n = 10), pain and symptom management (n = 7), and patient-provider communication (n = 6). The affective processes of patients (n = 20), caregivers (n = 16), and/or providers (n = 12) were examined.
RESULTS: Three features of the PC and ACP context may contribute to biased affective predictions: 1) early treatment decisions are made under heightened emotional states and with insufficient information; 2) palliative care decisions influence life domains beyond physical health; and 3) palliative care decisions involve multiple people.
CONCLUSION: Biases in affective predictions may serve as a barrier to optimal palliative care delivery. Predictions are complicated by intense emotions, inadequate prognostic information, involvement of many individuals, and cancer's effect on non-health life domains. Applying decision science frameworks may generate insights about affective predictions that can be harnessed to solve challenges associated with optimal delivery of palliative care.
OBJECTIVE: Despite national guidelines recommending early concurrent palliative care for individuals newly diagnosed with metastatic cancer, few community cancer centers, especially those in underserved rural areas do so. We are implementing an early concurrent palliative care model, ENABLE (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends) in four, rural-serving community cancer centers. Our objective was to develop a "toolkit" to assist community cancer centers that wish to integrate early palliative care for patients with newly diagnosed advanced cancer and their family caregivers.
METHOD: Guided by the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness-Adoption, Implementation, Maintenance) framework, we undertook an instrument-development process based on the literature, expert and site stakeholder review and feedback, and pilot testing during site visits.
RESULTS: We developed four instruments to measure ENABLE implementation: (1) the ENABLE RE-AIM Self-Assessment Tool to assess reach, adoption, implementation, and maintenance; (2) the ENABLE General Organizational Index to assess institutional implementation; (3) an Implementation Costs Tool; and (4) an Oncology Clinicians' Perceptions of Early Concurrent Oncology Palliative Care survey.
SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: We developed four measures to determine early palliative care implementation. These measures have been pilot-tested, and will be integrated into a comprehensive "toolkit" to assist community cancer centers to measure implementation outcomes. We describe the lessons learned and recommend strategies for promoting long-term program sustainability.
BACKGROUND: Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness that is focused on providing relief from symptoms and stress and improving the quality of life (QOL) for patients and their families. To help the 6.5 million U.S. adults and families affected by heart failure manage the high symptom burden, complex decision-making, and risk of exacerbation and death, the early integration of palliative care is critical and has been recommended by numerous professional organizations. However, few trials have tested early outpatient community-based models of palliative care for patients diagnosed with advanced heart failure and their caregivers. To address this gap, through a series of formative evaluation trials, we translated an oncology early palliative care telehealth intervention for heart failure to create ENABLE CHF-PC (Educate, Nurture, Advise, Before Life Ends, Comprehensive Heartcare for Patients and Caregivers).
METHODS/DESIGN: The primary objective of this multisite pragmatic randomized controlled trial is to test the efficacy of ENABLE CHF-PC plus usual heart failure care compared to usual care alone. Community-dwelling persons who are =50 years of age with New York Heart Association class III/IV or American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology stage C/D heart failure and their primary caregiver (if present) are being randomized to one of two study arms. The ENABLE CHF-PC intervention group receives usual heart failure care plus an in-person palliative care assessment by a board-certified palliative care provider (caregivers are invited to attend), a series of nurse coach-led, weekly psychoeducational 20 to 60 min phone sessions using a guidebook called Charting Your Course (patients: 6 sessions and caregivers: 4 sessions), and monthly check-in calls. Charting Your Course topical content includes problem-solving, coping, self-care and symptom management, communication, decision-making, advance care planning, and life review (patients only). Primary outcomes include patient QOL and mood (depressive symptoms/anxiety) and caregiver QOL, mood, and burden at 8 and 16 weeks after baseline. Outcomes will be examined using an intention-to-treat approach and mixed effects modeling for repeated measures.
DISCUSSION: This trial will determine whether the ENABLE CHF-PC model of concurrent heart failure palliative care is superior to usual heart failure care alone in achieving higher patient and caregiver QOL, improving mood, and lowering burden.