BACKGROUND: Medical Assistance in Dying comprises interventions that can be provided by medical practitioners to cause death of a person at their request if they meet predefined criteria. In June 2016, Medical Assistance in Dying became legal in Canada, sparking intense debate in the palliative care community.
AIM: This study aims to explore the experience of frontline palliative care providers about the impact of Medical Assistance in Dying on palliative care practice.
DESIGN: Qualitative descriptive design using semi-structured interviews and thematic analysis.
SETTINGS/PARTICIPANTS: We interviewed palliative care physicians and nurses who practiced in settings where patients could access Medical Assistance in Dying for at least 6 months before and after its legalization. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants with diverse personal views and experiences with assisted death. Conceptual saturation was achieved after interviewing 23 palliative care providers (13 physicians and 10 nurses) in Southern Ontario.
RESULTS: Themes identified included a new dying experience with assisted death; challenges with symptom control; challenges with communication; impact on palliative care providers personally and on their relationships with patients; and consumption of palliative care resources to support assisted death.
CONCLUSION: Medical Assistance in Dying has had a profound impact on palliative care providers and their practice. Communication training with access to resources for ethical decision-making and a review of legislation may help address new challenges. Further research is needed to understand palliative care provider distress around Medical Assistance in Dying, and additional resources are necessary to support palliative care delivery.
COVID-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019; it rapidly spread around the world and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization in March 2020. The palliative care program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Canada, provides comprehensive care to patients with advanced cancer and their families, through services including an acute palliative care unit, an inpatient consultation service, and an ambulatory palliative care clinic. In the face of a global pandemic, palliative care teams are uniquely placed to support patients with cancer who also have COVID-19. This may include managing severe symptoms such as dyspnea and agitation, as well as guiding advance care planning and goals of care conversations. In tandem, there is a need for palliative care teams to continue to provide care to patients with advanced cancer who are COVID-negative but who are at higher risk of infection and adverse outcomes related to COVID-19. This paper highlights the unique challenges faced by a palliative care team in terms of scaling up services in response to a global pandemic while simultaneously providing ongoing support to their patients with advanced cancer at a tertiary cancer center.
Background: Although outpatient palliative care clinics (OPCCs) provide a venue for early, pre-emptive referral to palliative care on a routine basis, some patients will continue to require urgent referrals. The purpose of this study was to characterise these urgent referrals to determine whether they reflect clinical need or convenience.
Methods: We retrospectively compared new patients in an OPCC who were seen urgently versus those seen at routine appointments. Descriptive statistics compared the two groups in terms of clinical characteristics, referring teams, symptoms, performance status and outcomes. Logistic regression was used to identify factors associated with urgent referral to the OPCC. Overall survival was compared using the log-rank test.
Results: Between January 2016 and December 2017, a total of 113 urgent referrals were reviewed in the OPCC; these were compared with a random sample of 217 routine referrals. Patients seen urgently were more likely to be referred by surgical oncology, and to report worse symptom scores for pain (p=0.0007), tiredness (p=0.02), well-being (p=0.001), constipation (p=0.02) and sleep (p=0.01). More patients seen urgently required direct admission to hospital following the visit (17.7% vs 0.9%, p<0.001). Median survival was shorter for patients seen urgently (4.3 months, 95% CI 3.4 to 7.8) versus routinely (8.1 months, 95% CI 7.2 to 9.5).
Conclusions: Compared with routine referrals, new patients seen urgently in the OPCC had higher symptom burden, shorter median survival and a greater chance of direct admission to hospital. Palliative care clinics should consider how best to accommodate urgent referrals.
Family caregivers provide substantial care for patients with advanced cancer, while suffering from hidden morbidity and unmet needs. The objectives of this review were to examine risk factors associated with caregiving for patients with advanced cancer, evaluate the evidence for pertinent interventions, and provide a practical framework for palliative care of caregivers in oncology settings. We reviewed studies examining the association of factors at the level of the caregiver, patient, caregiver-patient relationship, and caregiving itself, with adverse outcomes. In addition, we reviewed randomized controlled trials of interventions targeting the caregiver, the caregiver-patient dyad, or the patient and their family. Risk factors for adverse mental health outcomes included those related to the patient's declining status, symptom distress, and poor prognostic understanding; risk factors for adverse bereavement outcomes included unfavorable circumstances of the patient's death. Among the 16 randomized trials, the most promising results showed improvement of depression resulting from early palliative care interventions; results for quality of life were generally nonsignificant or showed an effect only on some subscales. Caregiving outcomes included burden, appraisal, and competence, among others, and showed mixed findings. Only three trials measured bereavement outcomes, with mostly nonsignificant results. On the basis of existent literature and our clinical experience, we propose the CARES framework to guide care for caregivers in oncology settings: Considering caregivers as part of the unit of care, Assessing the caregiver's situation and needs, Referring to appropriate services and resources, Educating about practical aspects of caregiving, and Supporting caregivers through bereavement. Additional trials are needed that are powered specifically for caregiver outcomes, use measures validated for advanced cancer caregivers, and test real-world interventions.
Background: Evidence supporting early palliative care is based on trials of specialised palliative care, but a more sustainable model might involve mainly primary providers.
Aim: The aim of this study was to compare the characteristics of physicians providing primary and specialised palliative care, their attitudes towards early palliative care and their perception of having sufficient resources for its provision.
Design: Survey distributed by mail and e-mail. Specialised providers were defined as both receiving palliative care referrals from other physicians and not providing palliative care only for their own patients.
Setting/participants: A total of 531 physicians providing palliative care in Canada (71% participation) participated in the study.
Results: Of the participants, 257 (48.4%) provided specialised and 274 (51.6%) primary care. Specialists were more likely to have palliative care training (71.8% vs 35.2%), work in urban areas (94.1% vs 75.6%), academic centres (47.8% vs 26.0%) and on teams (82.4% vs 16.8%), and to provide mainly cancer care (84.4% vs 65.1%) (all p < 0.001). Despite strongly favouring early palliative care, only half in each group agreed they had resources to deliver it; agreement was stronger among family physicians, those working on teams and those with greater availability of community and psychosocial support. Primary providers were more likely to agree that renaming the specialty ‘supportive care’ would increase patient comfort with early palliative care referral (47.4% vs 35.5%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: Despite strongly favouring the concept, both specialists and primary providers lack resources to deliver early palliative care; its provision may be facilitated by team-based care with appropriate support. Opinions differ regarding the value of renaming palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Although the effectiveness of early palliative care for patients with advanced cancer has been demonstrated in several trials, there has been no detailed published description of an early palliative care intervention.
METHOD: In this paper, we delineate the iterative conception and systematic evaluation of a complex intervention called team-based outpatient early palliative care (TO-EPC), and describe the components of the intervention. The intervention was developed based on palliative care theory, review of previous palliative care interventions and practice guidelines. We conducted feasibility testing and piloting of TO-EPC in a phase 2 trial, followed by evaluation in a large cluster randomised trial and qualitative research with patients and caregivers. The qualitative research informed the iterative refinement of the intervention.
RESULTS: Four principles and four domains of care constitute a conceptual framework for TO-EPC. The main domains of care are: coping and support, symptom control, decision-making and future planning. The main principles are that care is flexible, attentive, patient-led and family-centred. The most prominent domain for the initial consultation is coping and support; follow-up visits focus on symptom control, decision-making to maximise quality of life and future planning according to patient readiness. Key tasks are described in relation to each domain.
CONCLUSION: The description of our intervention may assist palliative care teams seeking to implement it, researchers wishing to replicate or build on it and oncologists hoping to adapt it for their patients.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer are increasingly discharged from inpatient settings following focused symptom management admissions. Thromboprophylaxis (TP) is recommended for patients with cancer admitted to acute care settings; less is known about TP use in palliative care (PC) settings. This study explored the opinions of Canadian medical oncologists (MO) and PC physicians regarding the use of TP for inpatients with advanced cancer.
METHODS: A fractional factorial survey designed to evaluate the impact of patient factors (age, clinical setting, reason for admission, pre-admission performance status (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group; ECOG), and risk of bleeding on anticoagulation) and physician demographics on recommending TP was administered by email to Canadian MO and PC physicians. Each respondent received eight vignettes randomly selected from a set of 32. Hierarchical regression was used to evaluate the odds of prescribing TP adjusted for patient factors.
RESULTS: 606 MO and 491 PC physicians were surveyed; response rates were 11.1% and 15.0%, respectively. MO were predominantly male (59.7%); PC female (60.3%); most worked in academic environments (90.3% MO; 73.9% PC). Multivariable hierarchical logistic regression demonstrated that all patient factors except age were associated with prescribing TP (ORs range: from 1.34 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.77) for good ECOG, to 2.53 (95% CI 1.9 to 3.37), for reversible reason for admission). Controlling for these factors, medical specialty was independently associated with recommending TP (OR for MO 2.09 (95% CI 1.56 to 2.8)).
CONCLUSIONS: MO have higher odds of recommending TP for inpatients with advanced cancer than PC physicians. Further research exploring the drivers of these differing practices is warranted.
PURPOSE: To describe the practices and opinions of specialized palliative care (SPC) physicians regarding early palliative care for patients with cancer, determine characteristics associated with receiving early referrals; and solicit opinions regarding renaming the specialty "supportive care."
METHODS: The survey was distributed by mail and e-mail to physicians who had previously self-identified as providing palliative care. SPC physicians were defined as receiving palliative care referrals from other physicians and not providing palliative care only for their own patients.
RESULTS: The response rate was 71% (531/746), of whom 257 (48.4%) practiced SPC. Of these SPC physicians, 84% provided mainly cancer care; >90% supported early palliative care referral in oncology and had referral criteria facilitating this, but only 20% received early referrals (>6-month prognosis). There was ambivalence regarding caring for patients with full resuscitation status and responsibility for managing cancer treatment-related complications. SPC physicians receiving early referrals were more likely to be female (p=0.02) and have a postgraduate degree (p=0.02), and less likely to provide mainly cancer care (p=0.03) and to agree that patients should stop chemotherapy before referral (p=0.009). Although 60% agreed that patients perceive the term "palliative care" negatively and 39% believed a name change to supportive care would encourage early referral, only 21% supported renaming the specialty.
CONCLUSIONS: Although most SPC physicians supported early palliative care in oncology, the timing of referrals was often late, and was associated with characteristics of SPC physicians. Few SPC physicians supported renaming palliative care.
Objective: We investigated correspondence between symptom severity and symptom bothersomeness in patients with advanced cancer.
Background: Symptom severity is commonly assessed in clinical cancer settings, but bothersomeness of these symptoms is less often measured.
Methods: Participants with advanced cancer enrolled in a cluster-randomized trial of early palliative care completed the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) and the quality of life at the end of life (QUAL-E) measure as part of their baseline assessment. For each symptom, we examined the correspondence between the symptom being indicated as most severe on the ESAS and rated as most bothersome on the QUAL-E.
Results: For the 386 patients who completed relevant sections of the ESAS and QUAL-E, tiredness (32.8%), sleep (23.8%), and appetite (20.2%) were most frequently rated as most severe, whereas pain (28.9%) and tiredness (24.3%) were most frequently indicated as most bothersome. The most bothersome and most severe symptom corresponded in 42%. Pain and/or tiredness were consistently among the top three most bothersome symptoms, whereas appetite was frequently rated the most severe symptom but was rarely perceived as the most bothersome. The probability that patients rating a symptom as most severe would also rate it as most bothersome was highest for pain (66%), nausea (58%), and tiredness (40%).
Discussion: ESAS symptom severity does not necessarily indicate patients' most bothersome symptom; regardless of severity, pain and tiredness are most frequently perceived as most bothersome. Further research should investigate the clinical benefits of patients also indicating their three most bothersome ESAS symptoms.
BACKGROUND: Patients with advanced cancer have an elevated risk of venous thromboembolism. Increasingly, patients are admitted to palliative care settings for brief admissions, with greater numbers of discharges (vs deaths) reported internationally. There is limited guidance around the use of thromboprophylaxis or incidence of venous thromboembolism for these patients.
AIM: The aim of this study was to review the use of thromboprophylaxis as well as incidence of venous thromboembolism and bleeding in palliative care units or residential hospices for patients with advanced cancer.
DESIGN: A systematic review using Cochrane methods.
DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase and the Cochrane Library were searched up to 28 September 2018 along with a grey literature search; the reference lists of selected papers were hand-searched. Inclusion criteria were original papers assessing thromboprophylaxis use in palliative care units or residential hospices for adult inpatients with cancer. Two reviewers independently selected and appraised papers using a tool designed for disparate data. Heterogeneity in study design made a meta-analysis not possible.
RESULTS: A total of 11 full-text papers (9 quantitative and 2 qualitative) and 11 abstracts were included. Thromboprophylaxis use ranged between 4% and 53%; venous thromboembolism rates between 0.5% and 20%; and bleeding incidence was between 0.01% and 9.8%. Risk assessment tools were used infrequently and adherence to international thromboprophylaxis guidelines ranged between 5% and 71%. Physician opinions differed around the use of thromboprophylaxis; patients were largely accepting of thromboprophylaxis if it was offered.
CONCLUSION: There is limited evidence around the optimal use of thromboprophylaxis for patients with advanced cancer admitted to palliative care settings. Although some patients may derive benefit, further research in this area is warranted.
Full integration of oncology and palliative care relies on the specific knowledge and skills of two modes of care: the tumour-directed approach, the main focus of which is on treating the disease; and the host-directed approach, which focuses on the patient with the disease. This Commission addresses how to combine these two paradigms to achieve the best outcome of patient care. Randomised clinical trials on integration of oncology and palliative care point to health gains: improved survival and symptom control, less anxiety and depression, reduced use of futile chemotherapy at the end of life, improved family satisfaction and quality of life, and improved use of health-care resources. Early delivery of patient-directed care by specialist palliative care teams alongside tumour-directed treatment promotes patient-centred care. Systematic assessment and use of patient-reported outcomes and active patient involvement in the decisions about cancer care result in better symptom control, improved physical and mental health, and better use of health-care resources. The absence of international agreements on the content and standards of the organisation, education, and research of palliative care in oncology are major barriers to successful integration. Other barriers include the common misconception that palliative care is end-of-life care only, stigmatisation of death and dying, and insufficient infrastructure and funding. The absence of established priorities might also hinder integration more widely. This Commission proposes the use of standardised care pathways and multidisciplinary teams to promote integration of oncology and palliative care, and calls for changes at the system level to coordinate the activities of professionals, and for the development and implementation of new and improved education programmes, with the overall goal of improving patient care. Integration raises new research questions, all of which contribute to improved clinical care. When and how should palliative care be delivered? What is the optimal model for integrated care? What is the biological and clinical effect of living with advanced cancer for years after diagnosis? Successful integration must challenge the dualistic perspective of either the tumour or the host, and instead focus on a merged approach that places the patient's perspective at the centre. To succeed, integration must be anchored by management and policy makers at all levels of health care, followed by adequate resource allocation, a willingness to prioritise goals and needs, and sustained enthusiasm to help generate support for better integration. This integrated model must be reflected in international and national cancer plans, and be followed by developments of new care models, education and research programmes, all of which should be adapted to the specific cultural contexts within which they are situated. Patient-centred care should be an integrated part of oncology care independent of patient prognosis and treatment intention. To achieve this goal it must be based on changes in professional cultures and priorities in health care.
PURPOSE: Despite increased access to palliative care in Africa, there remains substantial unmet need. We examined the impact of approaches to promoting the development of palliative care in two African countries, Uganda and Kenya, and considered how these and other strategies could be applied more broadly.
METHODS: This study reviews published data on development approaches to palliative care in Uganda and Kenya across five domains: education and training, access to opioids, public and professional attitudes, integration into national health systems, and research. These countries were chosen because they are African leaders in palliative care, in which successful approaches to palliative care development have been used.
RESULTS: Both countries have implemented strategies across all five domains to develop palliative care. In both countries, successes in these endeavors seem to be related to efforts to integrate palliative care into the national health system and educational curricula, the training of health care providers in opioid treatment, and the inclusion of community providers in palliative care planning and implementation. Research in palliative care is the least well-developed domain in both countries.
CONCLUSION: A multidimensional approach to development of palliative care across all domains, with concerted action at the policy, provider, and community level, can improve access to palliative care in African countries.
PURPOSE: Acute palliative care units (APCUs) admit patients with cancer for symptom control, transition to community palliative care units or hospice (CPCU/H), or end-of-life care. Prognostication early in the course of admission is crucial for decision-making. We retrospectively evaluated factors associated with patients' discharge disposition on an APCU in a cancer center.
METHODS: We evaluated demographic, administrative, and clinical data for all patients admitted to the APCU in 2015. Clinical data included cancer diagnosis, delirium screening, and Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) symptoms. An ESAS sub-score composed of fatigue, drowsiness, shortness of breath, and appetite (FDSA) was also investigated. Factors associated with patients' discharge disposition (home, CPCU/H, died on APCU) were identified using three-level multinomial logistic regression.
RESULTS: Among 280 patients, the median age was 65.5 and median length of stay was 10 days; 155 (55.4%) were admitted for symptom control, 65 (23.2%) for transition to CPCU/H, and 60 (21.4%) for terminal care. Discharge dispositions were as follows: 156 (55.7%) died, 63 (22.5%) returned home, and 61 (21.8%) were transferred to CPCU/H. On multivariable analysis, patients who died were less likely to be older (OR 0.97, p = 0.01), or to be admitted for symptom control (OR 0.06, p < 0.0001), and more likely to have a higher FDSA score 21–40 (OR 3.02, p = 0.004). Patients discharged to CPCU/H were less likely to have been admitted for symptom control (OR 0.06, p < 0.0001).
CONCLUSION: Age, reason for admission, and the FDSA symptom cluster on admission are variables that can inform clinicians about probable discharge disposition on an APCU.
BACKGROUND: Contact with bereaved caregivers is not standard practice among cancer physicians, and little is known about its impact on caregivers.
OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to describe the experiences and opinions of caregivers regarding bereavement contact from healthcare providers (HCP).
DESIGN: Semistructured qualitative interviews were conducted with 61 bereaved caregivers.
SUBJECTS: Bereaved caregivers of advanced cancer patients who had completed a randomized controlled trial of an early palliative care intervention were approached one to five years after the patient's death. Caregivers completed qualitative interviews from April 2012 to March 2015 after completion of quantitative measures.
APPROACH: In semistructured interviews, bereaved caregivers were asked to describe the contact they received from HCP after the patient's death and their opinions about bereavement contact. We used thematic analysis informed by grounded theory to code and analyze the data.
RESULTS: Of 60 caregivers included in the study, 30 (50%) received bereavement contact. There were no thematic differences between trial arms. The themes "contact reflects caring," "contact offers support," and "contact facilitates closure" were prominent among those who were contacted. "Contact is a courtesy," "contact is not always necessary," and "caregiver-initiated contact" were most evident among those who were not contacted. Overall, contact was appreciated by those who received it; for those who did not, reactions included rationalization, ambivalence, and regret. No negative consequences of contact were reported.
CONCLUSIONS: Bereavement contact is well received and may be missed if not provided. These data support integration of bereavement contact into routine supportive care for caregivers.
CONTEXT: Performance status measures are increasingly completed by patients in outpatient cancer settings but are not well validated for this use.
OBJECTIVES: We assessed performance of a patient-reported functional status measure (PRFS, based on the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG)), compared to the physician-completed ECOG, in terms of agreement in ratings and prediction of survival.
METHODS: Patients and physicians independently completed 5-point PRFS (lay version of ECOG) and ECOG measures on first consultation at an Oncology Palliative Care Clinic. We assessed agreement between PRFS and ECOG using weighted Kappa statistics, and used linear regression to determine factors associated with the difference between PRFS and ECOG ratings. We used the Kaplan-Meier method to estimate the patients' median survival, categorized by PRFS and ECOG, and assessed predictive accuracy of these measures using the C-statistic.
RESULTS: For the 949 patients, there was moderate agreement between PRFS and ECOG (weighted Kappa 0.32; 95%CI, 0.28-0.36). On average, patients' ratings of performance status were worse by 0.31 points (95%CI: 0.25-0.37, p<0.0001); this tendency was greater for younger patients (p=0.002) and those with worse symptoms (p<0.0001). Both PRFS and ECOG scores correlated well with overall survival; the C-statistic was higher for the average of PRFS and ECOG scores (0.619) than when reported individually (0.596 and 0.604, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: Patients tend to rate their performance status worse than physicians, particularly if they are younger or have greater symptom burden. Prognostic ability of performance status could be improved by using the average of patients and physician scores.
OBJECTIVE: To describe bereaved caregivers' experiences of providing care at home for patients with advanced cancer, while interacting with home care services.
METHODS: Caregivers of patients who had completed a 4-month randomized controlled trial of early palliative care versus standard oncology care were recruited 6 months to 5 years after the patient's death. All patients except one (control) had eventually received palliative care. In semi-structured interviews, participants were asked about their experiences of caregiving. Grounded theory guided all aspects of the study.
RESULTS: Sixty-one bereaved caregivers (30 intervention, 31 control) were interviewed, including spouses (33), adult children (19), and other family (9). There were no differences in themes between control and intervention groups. The core category of Taking charge encompassed caregivers' assumption of active roles in care, often in the face of inadequate formal support. There were four interrelated subcategories: (1) Navigating the system - navigating the complexities of the home care system to access resources and supports; (2) Engaging with professional caregivers - interacting with visiting personnel to advocate for consistency and quality of care; (3) Preparing for death - seeking out information about what to expect at the end of life; and (4) Managing after death - managing multiple administrative responsibilities in the emotionally charged period following death.
CONCLUSIONS: Caregivers were often thrust into assuming control in order to compensate for deficiencies in formal palliative home care services. Policies, quality indicators and guidelines are needed to ensure the provision of comprehensive, interdisciplinary home palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Early involvement of palliative care improves patient quality of life; however, quantitative studies have not yet demonstrated a similar effect for caregivers, for whom the construct of quality of life is less well developed.
AIM: To conceptualise quality of life of caregivers from their own perspective and to explore differences in themes between those who did or did not receive an early palliative care intervention.
DESIGN: Qualitative grounded theory study.
SETTING: Tertiary comprehensive cancer centre.
PARTICIPANTS: Following participation in a cluster-randomised trial of early palliative care, 23 caregivers (14 intervention and 9 control) of patients with advanced cancer participated in semi-structured interviews to discuss their quality of life.
RESULTS: The core category was 'living in the patient's world'. Five related themes were 'burden of illness and caregiving', 'assuming the caregiver role', 'renegotiating relationships', 'confronting mortality' and 'maintaining resilience'. There was thematic consistency between trial arms, except for the last two themes, which had distinct differences. Participants in the intervention group engaged in open discussion about the end of life, balanced hope with realism and had increased confidence from a range of professional supports. Controls tended to engage in 'deliberate ignorance' about the future, felt uncertain about how they would cope and lacked knowledge of available supports.
CONCLUSIONS: Caregiver quality of life is influenced profoundly by the interaction with the patient and should be measured with specific questionnaires that include content related to confronting mortality and professional supports. This would improve delineation of quality of life for caregivers and allow greater sensitivity to change.
Background: Patients with advanced cancer have reduced quality of life, which tends to worsen towards the end of life. We assessed the effect of early palliative care in patients with advanced cancer on several aspects of quality of life.
Methods: The study took place at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (Toronto, ON, Canada), between Dec 1, 2006, and Feb 28, 2011. 24 medical oncology clinics were cluster randomised (in a 1:1 ratio, using a computer-generated sequence, stratified by clinic size and tumour site [four lung, eight gastrointestinal, four genitourinary, six breast, two gynaecological]), to consultation and follow-up (at least monthly) by a palliative care team or to standard cancer care. Complete masking of interventions was not possible; however, patients provided written informed consent to participate in their own study group, without being informed of the existence of another group. Eligible patients had advanced cancer, European Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 0-2, and a clinical prognosis of 6-24 months. Quality of life (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy--Spiritual Well-Being [FACIT-Sp] scale and Quality of Life at the End of Life [QUAL-E] scale), symptom severity (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS]), satisfaction with care (FAMCARE-P16), and problems with medical interactions (Cancer Rehabilitation Evaluation System Medical Interaction Subscale [CARES-MIS]) were measured at baseline and monthly for 4 months. The primary outcome was change score for FACIT-Sp at 3 months. Secondary endpoints included change score for FACIT-Sp at 4 months and change scores for other scales at 3 and 4 months. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT01248624.
Findings: 461 patients completed baseline measures (228 intervention, 233 control); 393 completed at least one follow-up assessment. At 3-months, there was a non-significant difference in change score for FACIT-Sp between intervention and control groups (3·56 points [95% CI -0·27 to 7·40], p=0·07), a significant difference in QUAL-E (2·25 [0·01 to 4·49], p=0·05) and FAMCARE-P16 (3·79 [1·74 to 5·85], p=0·0003), and no difference in ESAS (-1·70 [-5·26 to 1·87], p=0·33) or CARES-MIS (-0·66 [-2·25 to 0·94], p=0·40). At 4 months, there were significant differences in change scores for all outcomes except CARES-MIS. All differences favoured the intervention group.
Interpretation: Although the difference in quality of life was non-significant at the primary endpoint, this trial shows promising findings that support early palliative care for patients with advanced cancer.
La métoclopramide est l'un des anti-émétiques les plus souvent utilisés en soins palliatifs. Mais elle peut avoir des effets secondaires sur le système extrapyramidal, altérant la qualité de vie des patients. Pour autant, ils ne sont pas assez pris en compte par les soignants. Les auteurs insistent sur la vigilance à avoir sur ces effets secondaires.