BACKGROUND: Palliative care services face challenges in adapting and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding how palliative care needs and outcomes have changed during the pandemic compared to before the pandemic is crucial to inform service planning and research initiatives.
AIM: To evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on symptoms, clinical characteristics, and outcomes for patients referred to a hospital-based palliative care service in a district general hospital in London, UK.
DESIGN: A retrospective service evaluation. Data were extracted from the electronic patient records.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: The first 60 inpatients with confirmed COVID-19 infection, referred to the hospital palliative care service between 1 March 2020 and 23 April 2020, and another 60 inpatients, referred to the hospital palliative care service between 11 March 2019 and 23 April 2019, were included from a district general hospital in East London, UK.
RESULTS: Patients with COVID-19 have lower comorbidity scores, poorer performance status, and a shorter time from referral to death compared to patients without COVID-19. Breathlessness, drowsiness, agitation, and fever are the most prevalent symptoms during COVID-19 compared to pain and drowsiness pre-COVID-19. Time from admission to referral to palliative care is longer for Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients, especially during COVID-19.
CONCLUSION: Early referral to palliative care is essential in COVID-19, especially for Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. There is urgent need to research why Black, Asian and minority ethnic patients are referred late; how palliative care services have changed; and possible solutions to setting up responsive, flexible, and integrated services.
Patients with heart failure have comparable illness burden and palliative care needs to those with cancer. However, few of them are offered timely palliative care. One main barrier is the difficulty in identifying those who require palliative care. Several palliative care needs-assessment/measurement tools were used to help identify these patients and assess/measure their needs, but it is not known which one is the most appropriate for this population. This review aimed to identify the most appropriate palliative care needs-assessment/measurement tools for patients with heart failure. Cochrane Library, MEDLINE Complete, AMED, PsycINFO, CINAHL Complete, EMBASE, EThOS, websites of the identified tools, and references and citations of the included studies were searched from inception to 25 June 2020. Studies were included if they evaluated palliative care needs-assessment/measurement tools for heart failure populations in terms of development, psychometrics, or palliative care patient/needs identification. Twenty-seven papers were included regarding nineteen studies, most of which were quantitative and observational. Six tools were identified and compared according to their content and context of use, development, psychometrics, and clinical applications in identifying patients with palliative care needs. Despite limited evidence, the Needs Assessment Tool: Progressive Disease - Heart Failure (NAT:PD-HF) is the most appropriate palliative care needs-assessment tool for use in heart failure populations. It covers most of the patient needs and has the best psychometric properties and evidence of identification ability and appropriateness. Psychometric testing of the tools in patients with heart failure and evaluating the tools to identify those with palliative care needs require more investigation.
Background: Voluntarily stopping eating and drinking (VSED) is an ongoing voluntary choice to forego food and hydration in an effort to hasten death. Ongoing caregiving is necessary as patients become weak and lose focus as a result of dehydration, but little is known about the process of supporting a patient through VSED.
Objective: To explore the experiences of caregivers who supported a patient through VSED.
Methods: Qualitative study with thematic analysis of transcripts of semistructured interviews with 24 U.S. caregivers for 20 individuals who had attempted VSED.
Results: Analysis produced four themes: (1) Caregivers believe that VSED is the best death available to the patient. (2) Caregivers act as advocates and worry that the patient's goals will be challenged by health care professionals, the community, or legal authorities; obtaining support from a hospice is an important way to legitimize VSED. (3) Through the VSED process itself, caregivers carry the responsibility for the patient's success as the patient becomes weaker and loses focus. (4) Because there is no social script to guide the VSED process, caregivers choose what roles to play during VSED, such as focusing on physical care or being emotionally present as the patient's spouse or child.
Conclusions: Caregivers face unique challenges in helping patients undertake VSED. Many are uncertain about whether they will receive support from clinicians or the community. Support from health professionals may improve caregiver confidence and reduce worry.
BACKGROUND: Innovative service models to facilitate end-of-life care for older people may be required to enable and bolster networks of care. The aim of this study was to understand how and why a new charitably funded service model of end-of-life care impacts upon the lives of older people.
METHODS: A multiple exploratory qualitative case study research strategy. Cases were 3 sites providing a new end-oflife service model for older people. The services were provided in community settings, primarily providing support in peoples own homes. Study participants included the older people receiving the end-of-life care service, their informal carers, staff providing care within the service and other stakeholders. Data collection included individual interviews with older people and informal carers at 2 time points, focus group interviews with staff and local stakeholders, nonparticipant observation of meetings, and a final cross-case deliberative panel discussion workshop. Framework analysis facilitated analysis within and across cases.
RESULTS: Twenty-three service users and 5 informal carers participated in individual interviews across the cases. Two focus groups were held with an additional 12 participants, and 19 people attended the deliberative panel workshop. Important elements contributing to the experience and impacts of the service included organisation, where services felt they were 'outsiders,' the focus of the services and their flexible approach; and the impacts particularly in enriching relationships and improving mental health.
CONCLUSION: These end-of-life care service models operated in a space between the healthcare system and the person's life world. This meant there could be ambiguity around their services, where they occupied a liminal, but important, space. These services are potentially important to older people, but should not be overly constrained or they may lose the very flexibility that enables them to have impact.
BACKGROUND: Developing recommendations for how we deliver healthcare is often left to leading experts in a field. Findings from the Integrated Palliative Care in cancer and chronic conditions (InSup-C) study, which aimed to identify best practice in integrated palliative care in cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heart failure, led to recommendations developed through an expert consultation process. We also wanted to develop these recommendations further with participants who were largely clinicians and members of the public.
METHODS: Results from the InSup-C study were disseminated through a three-week massive open online course (MOOC) which ran in 2016, 2017 and 2019. The first course helped develop the final recommendations, which were ranked by MOOC participants in the subsequent courses. MOOC participants were predominantly clinicians, but also academics and members of the public. They rated how important each recommendation was on a 9 point scale (9 most important). Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the ratings. The results were compared to findings from the consultation.
RESULTS: Five hundred fifteen completed the last part of the course where the recommendations were ranked, of which 195 (38%) completed the ratings. The top recommendations related to: need to expand palliative care to non-malignant conditions; palliative care needs to include different dimensions of care including physical, psychological and spiritual; policies and regulations assessments should be made regularly; palliative care integration should be mandatory; and there should be greater availability of medicines. These differed compared to the top ranked recommendations by the consultation panel in relation to the importance of leadership and policy making. This may indicate that clinicians are more focused on daily care rather than the (inter) national agenda.
CONCLUSIONS: Whilst both sets of recommendations are important, our study shows that we need to include the views of clinicians and the public rather than rely upon leading expert opinion alone. To keep recommendations fresh we need both the input of clinicians, the public and experts. When disseminating findings, MOOCs offer a useful way to gain greater reach with clinicians and the public, and importantly could be a vehicle to validate recommendations made by leading expert panels.
BACKGROUND: Research requires high-quality ethical and governance scrutiny and approval. However, when research is conducted across different countries, this can cause challenges due to the differing ethico-legal framework requirements of ethical boards. There is no specific guidance for research which does not involve non-medicinal products.
AIM: To describe and address differences in ethical and research governance procedures applied by research ethics committees for non-pharmaceutical palliative care studies including adult participants in collaborative European studies.
DESIGN: An online survey analysed using descriptive statistics.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Eighteen principal investigators in 11 countries conducting one of three European-funded studies.
RESULTS: There was variation in practice including whether ethical approval was required. The time to gain full approvals differed with the United Kingdom having governance procedures that took the longest time. Written consent was not required in all countries nor were data safety monitoring committees for trials. There were additional differences in relation to other data management issues.
CONCLUSION: Researchers need to take the differences in research approval procedures into account when planning studies. Future research is needed to establish European-wide recommendations for policy and practice that dovetail ethical procedures and enhance transnational research collaborations.
Background: Research is important internationally, impacting on health service provision and patient benefit. Journals play an important dissemination role, but there may be geographical bias, potentially affecting access to evidence.
Aim: To understand if there is a relationship between the continent of journals and that of contributing authors.
Design: Bibliometric analysis of journal citation report data (June 2018). Odds ratio of association of an author being from region, region of journal publication, publication model and the number of papers.
Setting: Journals specialising in palliative care research, with an impact factor above the median impact factor for their most common indexing category.
Results: Five journals: three published in Europe (Palliative Medicine, BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care, and BMC Palliative Care) and two in North America (Journal of Pain and Symptom Management and Journal of Palliative Medicine). Authors were from 30+ countries, but mostly North America (54.18%) or Europe (27.94%). Preliminary sensitivity tests show that the odds of an author being from a North American institution increase 16.4 times (p < 0.01; 95% confidence interval: 12.9, 20.8) if the region of journal publication is North America. The odds of an author being from a European institution is 14.0 times (p < 0.01; 95% confidence interval: 10.9, 17.9) higher if the region of journal publication is Europe.
Conclusion: Publishers, editors and authors are concentrated in North America or Europe. North American authors are more present in North American journals and European authors in European journals. This polarised approach, if replicated across readerships, may lead to research waste, duplication, and be sub-optimal for healthcare development.
BACKGROUND: Telehealth is growing and its application in palliative care is seen as a solution to pressures on palliative care services. A 2010 UK review reported growing awareness of telehealth in palliative care but a lack of evidence-based research to support its use. The primary aim of this review was to describe the current use of telehealth in palliative care in the UK and evaluate telehealth initiatives against a digital service standard. The secondary aim was to explore whether telehealth results in a reduction in emergency care access.
METHODS: Systematic review of the literature with thematic synthesis. Records were screened and data extracted by two reviewers. EMBASE, MEDLINE, CINAHL, Psychinfo and Cochrane central register for controlled trials were searched using pre-defined terms. Hand searching of conference literature, thesis databases and citation tracking was also conducted. The protocol for this systematic review was registered with PROSPERO and can be found at http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO/display_record.php?ID=CRD42017080038.
RESULTS: The search identified 3807 titles and 30 studies were included in the review. Telehealth was used to support patients and carers, electronic record keeping and professional education. Notably, the number of home telemonitoring initiatives for patients had increased from the 2010 review. Despite this variety, many studies were small scale, descriptive and provided little evidence of evaluation of the service. Ten papers were sufficiently detailed to allow appraisal against the digital service standard and only one of these met all of the criteria to some extent. Seven studies made reference to emergency care access.
CONCLUSIONS: Although there is growth of telehealth services, there remains a lack of evaluation and robust study design meaning conclusions regarding the clinical application of telehealth in palliative care cannot be drawn. There is insufficient evidence to appreciate any benefit of telehealth on access to emergency care. Future work is needed to evaluate the use of telehealth in palliative care and improve telehealth design in line with digital service standards.
Context: Families are known to be involved in assisted dying and their involvement can be influenced by many factors.
Objectives: To explore how Swiss families interact with health care professionals and right-to-die associations regarding assisted suicide and their choices around disclosure.
Methods: A secondary data analysis on a cross-sectional qualitative interview study conducted in the Italian- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland was conducted. Interviews with 28 bereaved family members were analyzed using framework analysis.
Results: Two main themes were identified: (1) Interactions with physicians and right-to-die associations. (2) Choices about disclosing their experiences. In general, families believed that assisted suicide is a private matter, to be pursued mainly outside the medical field and involved physicians only when necessary. Families appeared to deliberately limit interaction with physicians and to be more comfortable interacting with the right-to-die associations. Some participants presumed a clear choice between assisted suicide or palliative care. Disclosing to others the decision, and preparation of assisted suicide emerged to be an important emotional burden for families. Some family members preferred to restrict disclosure before and after assisted suicide, by sometimes not informing other family members until the final days.
Conclusions : In Switzerland, there is limited interaction between families and health care professionals concerning assisted suicide decisions, whereas families reported more open interactions with right-to-die associations. It is recommended that the needs of families should be reflected in health policies, taking into consideration the different contexts where assisted dying is permitted.
CONTEXT: Many jurisdictions around the world have passed medical aid in dying laws allowing competent, eligible individuals facing life-limiting illness to self-administer prescribed medication to control timing of death. These laws do not prevent some patients who are receiving hospice services from dying by suicide without assistance.
OBJECTIVES: To explore hospice professionals' experiences of patients who die by suicide or intentionally hasten death with or without legal assistance in an area where there is legalized medical aid in dying.
METHODS: Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with twenty-one home hospice professionals (7 nurses, 7 social workers, 4 physicians, 3 chaplains). Thematic analysis was carried out to analyze the data.
RESULTS: Three primary themes were identified from the interviews: 1) dealing with and differentiating between hastened death and suicide, 2) medical aid in dying access and affordability, and 3) how patients have hastened their own deaths. Analysis of these data indicates there are some patients receiving hospice services who die by suicide because they are not eligible for, have no knowledge of, or lack access to legalised medical aid in dying. Hospice professionals do not consistently identify patients' deaths as suicide when they are self-inflicted and sometimes view these deaths as justified.
CONCLUSION: Suicide and hastened deaths continue to be an unexamined cause of death for some home hospice patients who may have requested medical aid in dying. Open communication and increased education and training is needed for palliative care professionals regarding legal options, issues of suicide and suicide assessment.
BACKGROUND: Laws allowing assisted suicide and euthanasia have been implemented in many locations around the world but some individuals suffering with terminal illness receiving palliative care services are hastening death or die by suicide without assistance. This systematic review aims to summarise evidence of palliative care professionals' experiences of patients who died by suicide or hastened death in areas where assisted dying is legal and to understand when hastened death is considered to be a suicide.
METHODS: AMED, CINAHL Complete, PsycINFO, PubMED, and Academic Search Ultimate were searched for articles from inception through June 2018. Quality assessment used the Hawker framework.
RESULTS: A total of 1518 titles were screened resulting in thirty studies meeting eligibility criteria for this review. Published studies about professionals' experiences from areas with legalised assisted dying includes limited information about patients who hasten death outside legal guidelines, die by suicide without assistance, or if the law impacts suicide among palliative care patients.
CONCLUSION: There are a range of experiences and emotions professionals' experience with patients who die by euthanasia, assisted suicide, or hasten death without assistance. The included literature suggests improved communication among professionals is needed but does not explicitly identify when a hastened death is deemed a suicide in areas where assisted dying is practiced. More research is needed to help clarify what hastened death means in a palliative care context and identify how and if assisted dying impacts issues of suicide in palliative care settings.
BACKGROUND: Families' experiences of assisted dying are under-investigated and families are rarely considered in clinical guidelines concerning assisted dying.
AIM: To systematically review family experiences of assisted dying.
DESIGN: A systematic literature review using thematic synthesis.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, AMED (Allied and Complementary Medicine) and PsycINFO databases (January 1992 to February 2019). Studies investigating families' experiences on the practice of legalised assisted dying were included. We excluded studies prior to legalisation within the jurisdiction, secondary data analysis and opinion papers.
RESULTS: Nineteen articles met the inclusion criteria. Publications were derived from four countries: The Netherlands, United States (Oregon, Washington and Vermont), Canada and Switzerland. Dutch studies predominately investigated family involvement in euthanasia, while Swiss and American studies only reported on assisted suicide. Eleven studies had a qualitative design, using predominately in-depth interviews; seven were retrospective surveys. Five analytical themes represented families' experiences in assisted dying: (1) context of the decision, (2) grounding the decision, (3) cognitive and emotional work, (4) experiencing the final farewell and (5) grief and bereavement. The results showed that families can be very involved in supporting patients seeking assisted dying, where open communication is maintained. Family involvement appeared to be influenced by the type of legislation in their country and the families' perception of the social acceptability of assisted dying.
CONCLUSION: Our data confirm that families across all jurisdictions are involved in assisted suicide decision and enactment. Family needs are under-researched, and clinical guidelines should incorporate recommendations about how to consider family needs and how to provide them with evidence-based tailored interventions.
BACKGROUND: The World Health Organisation (WHO) endorses integrated palliative care which has a significant impact on quality of life and satisfaction with care. Effective integration between hospices, palliative care services, hospitals and primary care services are required to support patients with palliative care needs. Studies have indicated that little is known about which aspects are regarded as most important and should be priorities for international implementation. The Integrated Palliative Care in cancer and chronic conditions (InSup-C) project, aimed to investigate integrated practices in Europe and to formulate requirements for effective palliative care integration. It aimed to develop recommendations, and to agree priorities, for integrated palliative care linked to the InSuP-C project.
METHODS: Transparent expert consultation was adopted at the approach used. Data were collected in two phases: 1) international transparent expert consultation using face-to-face roundtable discussions at a one day workshop in Brussels, and 2) via subsequent online cross-sectional survey where items were rated to indicate degree of agreement on their importance and ranked to indicate priority for implementation. Workshop discussions used content analysis to develop a list of 23 recommendations, which formed the survey questionnaire. Survey analysis used descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis of open responses.
RESULTS: Thirty-six international experts in palliative care and cancer care, including senior clinicians, researchers, leaders of relevant international organisations and funders, were invited to a face-to-face workshop. Data were collected from 33 (19 men, 14 women), 3 declined. They mostly came from European countries (31), USA (1) and Australia (1). Twenty one of them also completed the subsequent online survey (response rate 63%). We generated 23 written statements that were grouped into the organisational constructs: macro (10), meso (6) and micro (7) levels of integration of palliative care. Highest priority recommendations refer to education, leadership and policy-making, medium priority recommendations focused on funding and relationship-building, and lower priority recommendations related to improving systems and infrastructure.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that amongst a group of international experts there was overall good agreement on the importance of recommendations for integrated palliative care. Understanding expert's priorities is important and can guide practice, policymaking and future research.
Although chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is recognized as being a life-limiting condition with palliative care needs, palliative care provision is seldom implemented. The disease unpredictability, the misconceptions about palliative care being only for people with cancer, and only relevant in the last days of life, prevent a timely integrated care plan. This systematic review aimed to explore how palliative care is provided in advanced COPD and to identify elements defining integrated palliative care. Eight databases, including MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL, were searched using a comprehensive search strategy to identify studies on palliative care provision in advanced COPD, published from January 1, 1960 to November 30, 2017. Citation tracking and evaluation of trial registers were also performed. Study quality was assessed with a critical appraisal tool for both qualitative and quantitative data. Of the 458 titles, 24 were eligible for inclusion. Experiences about advanced COPD, palliative care timing, service delivery and palliative care integration emerged as main themes, defining a developing taxonomy for palliative care provision in advanced COPD. This taxonomy involves different levels of care provision and integrated care is the last step of this dynamic process. Furthermore, palliative care involvement, holistic needs' assessment and management and advance care planning have been identified as elements of integrated care. This literature review identified elements that could be used to develop a taxonomy of palliative care delivery in advanced COPD. Further research is needed to improve our understanding on palliative care provision in advanced COPD.
BACKGROUND: Seventy percent of people with advanced dementia live and die in care homes. Multisensory approaches, such as Namaste Care, have been developed to improve the quality of life and dying for people with advanced dementia but little is known about effectiveness or optimum delivery. The aim of this review was to develop an explanatory account of how the Namaste Care intervention might work, on what outcomes, and in what circumstances.
METHODS: This is a realist review involving scoping of the literature and stakeholder interviews to develop theoretical explanations of how interventions might work, systematic searches of the evidence to test and develop the theories, and their validation with a purposive sample of stakeholders. Twenty stakeholders - user/patient representatives, dementia care providers, care home staff, researchers -took part in interviews and/or workshops.
RESULTS: We included 85 papers. Eight focused on Namaste Care and the remainder on other types of sensory interventions such as music therapy or massage. We identified three context-mechanism-outcome configurations which together provide an explanatory account of what needs to be in place for Namaste Care to work for people living with advanced dementia. This includes: providing structured access to social and physical stimulation, equipping care home staff to cope effectively with complex behaviours and variable responses, and providing a framework for person-centred care. A key overarching theme concerned the importance of activities that enabled the development of moments of connection for people with advanced dementia.
CONCLUSIONS: This realist review provides a coherent account of how Namaste Care, and other multisensory interventions might work. It provides practitioners and researchers with a framework to judge the feasibility and likely success of Namaste Care in long term settings. Key for staff and residents is that the intervention triggers feelings of familiarity, reassurance, engagement and connection.
STUDY REGISTRATION: This study is registered as PROSPERO CRD42016047512.
CONTEXT: Trends in symptoms and functional ability are known towards the end of life, but less is understood about quality of life, particularly prospectively following service referral.
OBJECTIVES: This study compares quality of life trajectories of people with and without cancer, referred to volunteer provided palliative care services.
METHODS: A secondary analysis of the ELSA trial (n = 85 people with cancer and n = 72 without cancer). Quality of life data (WHOQOL-BREF) were collected at baseline (referral), 4, 8 and 12 weeks. Socio-demographic data were collected at baseline. We specified a series of joint models to estimate differences on quality of life trajectories between groups adjusting for participants who die earlier in the study.
RESULTS: People with cancer had a significantly better quality of life at referral to the volunteer provided palliative care services than those with non-malignant disease despite similar demographic characteristics (Cohen d's=.37 to .45). More people with cancer died during the period of the study. We observed significant differences in quality of life physical and environmental domain trajectories between groups (b = -2.35, CI -4.49, -0.21, and b = -4.11, CI -6.45, -1.76). People with cancer experienced a greater decline in quality of life than those with non-malignant disease.
CONCLUSION: Referral triggers for those with and without cancer may be different. People with cancer can be expected to have a more rapid decline in quality of life from the point of service referral. This may indicate greater support needs, including from volunteer provided palliative care services.
Purpose: To explore the perspectives of people anticipated to be in their last year of life, family carers, volunteers and staff on the impacts of receiving a volunteer-provided befriending service. Patient participants received up to 12 weeks of a volunteer-provided befriending intervention. Typically, this involved one visit per week from a trained volunteer. Such services complement usual care and are hoped to enhance quality of life.
Methods: Multiple case study design (n = 8). Cases were end-of-life befriending services in home and community settings including UK-based hospices (n = 6), an acute hospital (n = 1) and a charity providing support to those with substance abuse issues (n = 1). Data collection incorporated qualitative thematic interviews, observation and documentary analysis. Framework analysis facilitated within and across case pattern matching.
Results: Eighty-four people participated across eight sites (cases), including patients (n = 23), carers (n = 3), volunteers (n = 24) and staff (n = 34). Interview data are reported here. Two main forms of input were described—‘being there’ and ‘doing for’. ‘Being there’ encapsulated the importance of companionship and the relational dynamic between volunteer and patient. ‘Doing for’ described the process of meeting social needs such as being able to leave the house with the volunteer. These had impacts on wellbeing with people describing feeling less lonely, isolated, depressed and/or anxious.
Conclusion: Impacts from volunteer befriending or neighbour services may be achieved through volunteers taking a more practical/goal-based orientation to their role and/or taking a more relational and emotional orientation. Training of volunteers must equip them to be aware of these differing elements of the role and sensitive to when they may create most impact.
Trial Registration: ISRCTN12929812
BACKGROUND: The predicted demographic changes internationally have implications for the nature of care that older people receive and place of care as they age. Healthcare policy now promotes the implementation of end-of-life care interventions to improve care delivery within different settings. The Gold Standards Framework in Care Homes (GSFCH) programme is one end-of-life care initiative recommended by the English Department of Health. Only a small number of care homes that start the programme complete it, which raises questions about the implementation process.
AIM: To identify the type, role, impact and cost of facilitation when implementing the GSFCH programme into nursing care home practice.
DESIGN: A mixed-methods study.
SETTING: Nursing care homes in south-east England.
PARTICIPANTS: Staff from 38 nursing care homes undertaking the GSFCH programme. Staff in 24 nursing care homes received high facilitation. Of those, 12 also received action learning. The remaining 14 nursing care homes received usual local facilitation of the GSFCH programme.
METHODS: Study data were collected from staff employed within nursing care homes (home managers and GSFCH coordinators) and external facilitators associated with the homes. Data collection included interviews, surveys and facilitator activity logs. Following separate quantitative (descriptive statistics) and qualitative (template) data analysis the data sets were integrated by 'following a thread'. This paper reports study data in relation to facilitation.
RESULTS: Three facilitation approaches were provided to nursing home staff when implementing the GSFCH programme: 'fitting it in' facilitation; 'as requested' facilitation; and 'being present' facilitation. 'Being present' facilitation most effectively enabled the completion of the programme, through to accreditation. However, it was not sufficient to just be present. Without mastery and commitment, from all participants, including the external facilitator, learning and initiation of change failed to occur. Implementation of the programme required an external facilitator who could mediate multi-layered learning at an individual, organisational and appreciative system level. The cost savings in the study outweighed the cost of providing a 'being present' approach to facilitation.
CONCLUSIONS: Different types of facilitation are offered to support the implementation of end-of-life care initiatives. However, in this study 'being present' facilitation, when supported by multi-layered learning, was the only approach that initiated the change required.
Context: Thousands of family members worldwide are annually involved in assisted dying. Family participation in assisted dying has rarely been investigated and families' needs typically are not considered in assisted dying legislation and clinical guidelines.
Objectives: To explore family caregivers' reflections on experiences of assisted suicide in Switzerland.
Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative interview study conducted in the Italian- and French-speaking regions of Switzerland. Interpretation and analysis were performed using qualitative content analysis.
Results: Twenty-eight close relatives and family carers of 18 patients who died by assisted suicide in Switzerland were interviewed. Family members perceived their involvement in assisted suicide as characterized by five phases; 1) contemplation, 2) gaining acceptance, 3) gaining permission, 4) organization, and 5) aftermath. Families can participate in these phases at diverse levels and with varying degrees of involvement. Important triggers for families and patients for transition between phases include patients' experiences of their life-threatening illnesses and related treatments, their increasing awareness of approaching death, and family member recognition of their loved one's unbearable suffering. Participating in assisted suicide created further demanding tasks for families in addition to their role of caregivers.
Conclusion: Families appeared to be involved in the preparation of assisted suicide along with patients, irrespective of their personal values regarding assisted dying. Support for family members is essential if they are involved in tasks preparatory to assisted suicide. Clinical guidelines and policies concerning assisted dying should acknowledge and address family needs.
BACKGROUND: Effective recruitment to randomised controlled trials is critically important for a robust, trustworthy evidence base in palliative care. Many trials fail to achieve recruitment targets, but the reasons for this are poorly understood. Understanding barriers and facilitators is a critical step in designing optimal recruitment strategies.
AIM: To identify, explore and synthesise knowledge about recruitment barriers and facilitators in palliative care trials using the '6 Ps' of the 'Social Marketing Mix Framework'.
DESIGN: A systematic review with narrative synthesis.
DATA SOURCES: Medline, CINAHL, PsycINFO and Embase databases (from January 1990 to early October 2016) were searched. Papers included the following: interventional and qualitative studies addressing recruitment, palliative care randomised controlled trial papers or reports containing narrative observations about the barriers, facilitators or strategies to increase recruitment.
RESULTS: A total of 48 papers met the inclusion criteria. Uninterested participants (Product), burden of illness (Price) and 'identifying eligible participants' were barriers. Careful messaging and the use of scripts/role play (Promotion) were recommended. The need for intensive resources and gatekeeping by professionals were barriers while having research staff on-site and lead clinician support (Working with Partners) was advocated. Most evidence is based on researchers' own reports of experiences of recruiting to trials rather than independent evaluation.
CONCLUSION: The 'Social Marketing Mix Framework' can help guide researchers when planning and implementing their recruitment strategy but suggested strategies need to be tested within embedded clinical trials. The findings of this review are applicable to all palliative care research and not just randomised controlled trials.