Purpose: Life-sustaining treatment (LST) decisions for patients and caregivers at the end-of-life (EOL) process are supported by the “Act on Hospice and Palliative Care and Decisions on LST for Patients at the EOL,” enforced in February 2018. It remains unclear whether the act changes EOL decisions and LST implementation in clinical practice. For this study, we investigated patients’ decision-making regarding LSTs during the EOL process since the act’s enforcement.
Materials and Methods: Retrospective reviews were conducted on adult patients who were able to decide to terminate LST and died at Seoul National University Hospital between February 5, 2018, and February 5, 2019. We examined demographics, who made the decisions, the type and date of documentation confirming patient's LST, and whether the LST was withheld or withdrawn.
Results: Of 809 patients who were enrolled, 29% (n=231) completed forms regarding LST themselves, and 71% (n=578) needed family members to decide. The median time from confirmation of the EOL process to death and from the Advance Statement to death were 2 and 5 days, respectively (both ranges, 0 to 244). In total, 90% (n=727) of patients withheld treatment, and 10% (n=82) withdrew it. We found a higher withdrawal rate when family members made the decisions (13.3% vs. 1.7%, p < 0.001).
Conclusion: After the act’s enforcement, withdrawing LSTs became lawful and self-determination rates increased. Family members still make 71% of decisions regarding LSTs, but these are often inconsistent with the patients’ wishes; thus, further efforts are needed to integrate the new act into clinical practice.
BACKGROUND: Positive attitudes for end-of-life (EOL) care along with adequate education are key factors for the provision of quality EOL care. This national study was conducted to identify the factors that influence attitudes toward EOL care on medical students.
METHOD: An anonymous survey was designed and administered to fourth-year medical students at all 41 medical schools in Korea. Topics related to EOL care were assessed in classroom teaching, bedside teaching, and feedback experiences during clinical clerkships. Seven questions for self-rated attitudes and affecting factors were analyzed toward EOL care.
RESULTS: With a response rate of 49.2%, the median number of topics recognized by the students as having been delivered was 5 of 11 topics in classroom lectures and 1 of 8 topics in clinical experience. Although few (21.2%) participants indicated that they felt ready for EOL care practice, nevertheless, most felt that they should have adequate knowledge of and preparation for clinical competency in EOL care. Several parameters including respondent's demographics and exposure to EOL care topics in classroom and in bedside teaching influenced the responses to all 7 attitude questions. However, having more than 1 bedside experience was the only factor positively affecting all attitudinal measures.
CONCLUSIONS: Clinical experience related to EOL care seems to be the utmost priory in fostering positive attitudes and competency among medical students.
PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of caregivers' role preference in decision making on conflicts and psychiatric distresses.
METHODS: The responses of 406 caregivers of terminal cancer patients enrolled in a trial determining the efficacy of a decision aid focused on the disclosure of terminal disease status were included in this secondary analysis. The outcomes include the change scores of the Decision Conflict Scale (DCS) and depression and anxiety subscales of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) at the 1 and 3 months from baseline. The linear mixed model was employed to discover the impact of caregivers' decisional role preference on the outcomes.
FINDINGS: Of the 406, 137 (33.7%) showed an active role preference and 269 (66.3%) showed a passive role preference. In the post hoc analysis of the adjusted differences of change scores between passive caregivers who received decision aid (passive-decision aid) and active caregivers with decision aid (active-decision aid), non-significant differences were observed in the DCS. However, at the 3-month, the change scores of the HADS depression subscale increased by 4.43 (effect size, 0.71) and those of the HADS anxiety subscale increased by 4.14 (effect size, 0.61) in the passive-decision aid group than in active-decision aid group, showing moderate to large difference.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that information might be ethically recommended in a format that is interactive and tailored to how much an individual wishes to be involved in the decision-making process.
PURPOSE: The authors tested whether a decision aid explaining how to discuss the approach of death with a family member with cancer would help family caregivers decide to discuss a terminal prognosis.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: The authors randomly assigned caregivers of terminally ill patients with cancer to a group that received a video and a companion workbook that showed either how they can discuss the prognosis with their patient (experimental arm) or how cancer pain can be controlled (control arm). At baseline and 1 month, they evaluated the decision to discuss terminal prognosis as the primary outcome. At 0, 1, 3, and 6 months, we assessed the caregivers' decisional conflict and satisfaction as secondary outcomes using a Decision Conflict Scale (DCS).
RESULTS: They found no difference in changes in the decision to discuss terminal prognosis between the two groups. Conflict (P = .003), uncertainty (P = .019), and value clarity (P = .007) subscale scores and total DCS score (P = .008) improved from baseline to 1 month significantly more in the experimental arm than in the control arm. Over 6 months, the significant between-group differences continued for the conflict (P = .031), uncertainty (P = .014), and value clarity (P = .039) subscale scores and total DCS score (P = .040).
CONCLUSION: Decision aids can help caregivers, with the aid of trained professionals, to communicate with patients about their terminal illness.
Purpose: The aims of this study were to investigate trends of aggressive treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients at the end-of-life (EOL) during the recent 5 years and examine the relationship between hospice consultation (HC) and aggressive care.
Materials and Methods: The medical records of 789 patients with stage IIIB-IV NSCLC at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH) who received palliative chemotherapy and died from 2010 to 2014 were retrospectively reviewed. Indicators of aggressive treatment were evaluated, and the association of HC with these indicators was analyzed.
Results: During the last 5 years, the frequency of HC increased from 26.7% to 43.6%. The time interval from last chemotherapy to death increased, and the proportion of patients who received palliative chemotherapy, visited an emergency room, were admitted to intensive care unit, during the last month of life, and died in SNUH significantly decreased over time. Referral to HC was significantly associated with lower intensive care unit admission rates, lower out-of-hospital death rates, and less use of the chemotherapy within 1 month prior to death. Overall survival did not differ by HC.
Conclusion: The pattern of cancer care nearthe EOL has become less aggressivewhen HCwas provided. The positive association of HCwith better EOL care suggests that providing HC at the optimal time might help to avoid futile aggressive treatment.
Purpose: The aims of this study were to explore how oncologists and resident physicians practice end-of-life (EOL) discussions and to solicit their opinions on EOL discussions as a means to improve the quality of EOL care.
Materials and Methods: A survey questionnaire was developed to explore the experiences and opinions about EOL discussions among oncologists and residents. Descriptive statistics, the t-test, and the Chi-square test were performed for the analyses.
Results: A total of 147 oncologists and 229 residents participated in this study. The study respondents reported diverse definitions of "terminal state", and most respondents tried to disclose the patient's condition to the patient and/or family members. Both groups were involved in EOL care discussions, with a rather low satisfaction level (57.82/100). The best timing to initiate discussion was considered when metastasis or disease recurrence occurred or when withdrawal of chemotherapy was anticipated. Furthermore, the study respondents suggested that patients and their family members should be included in the EOL discussion. Medical, legal, and ethical knowledge and communication difficulties along with practical issues were revealed as barriers and facilitators for EOL discussion.
Conclusion: This study explored various perspectives of oncologists and resident physicians for EOL discussion. Since the Life-Sustaining-Treatment Decision-making Act will be implemented shortly in Korea, now is the time for oncologists and residents to prepare themselves by acquiring legal knowledge and communication skills. To achieve this, education, training, and clinical tools for healthcare professionals are required.
Goals of work: This study examined cancer patient and family member preferences-and the reasons for the preferences-regarding place of terminal care and of death.
Patients and methods: We constructed a questionnaire that included demographic, clinical, and support network data for 371 patients who were treated at any of the seven university hospitals or the National Cancer Center in Korea and 281 of their family members.
Main results: About half of the interviewed patients and half of the family members expressed a preference for the patient being cared for and dying at home. The preference reflected a wish for patients to live out their lives in privacy and to be with their family when their life ended. Those who expressed a preference to be cared for or to die in a hospital wanted to get medical treatment during the last days of life and to relieve their families of the burden of caring for them. Of the variables examined, support network factors and some sociodemographic factors (sex, family members' age, and place of residence) were strongly predictive of preferences.
Conclusion: A majority of cancer patients preferred to receive terminal care at home. Cancer patients and family members with strong support groups were more likely to prefer the home as the place of terminal care and dying. Hence, improving support networks might increase the proportion of patients receiving home care and dying at home.
L'objectif de cette étude était d'enquêter sur la fréquence d'utilisation de la chimiothérapie et ses facteurs associés chez les patients dans tous les groupes d'âge dans la dernière année de vie. La conclusion de l'étude est qu'en dépit du fait que la plupart des patients atteints de cancer sont résistants à la chimiothérapie à la fin de la vie, celle-ci a été administrée souvent à tous les groupes d'âge.
Le but de cette étude était d'examiner la pertinence de la chimiothérapie et les soins chez des patients cancéreux coréens en fin de vie. Elle a été conçue à partir d'une cohorte rétrospective composée de patients diagnostiqués avec un cancer métastatique et qui ont reçu une chimiothérapie palliative au Seoul National University Hospital en 2002.