BACKGROUND: The ERANet-LAC CODE (Care Of the Dying Evaluation) international survey assessed quality of care for dying cancer patients in seven countries, by use of the i-CODE questionnaire completed by bereaved relatives. The aim of this sub study was to explore which factors improve or reduce quality of end-of-life (EOL) care from Norwegian relatives' point of view, as expressed in free text comments.
METHODS: 194 relatives of cancer patients dying in seven Norwegian hospitals completed the i-CODE questionnaire 6-8 weeks after bereavement; recruitment period 14 months; response rate 58%. Responders were similar to non-responders in terms of demographic details.104 participants (58% spouse/partner) added free text comments, which were analyzed by systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: Of the 104 comments, 45% contained negative descriptions, 27% positive and 23% mixed. 78% described previous experiences, whereas 22% alluded to the last 2 days of life. 64% of the comments represented medical/surgical/oncological wards and 36% palliative care units. Four main categories were developed from the free text comments: 1) Participants described how attentive care towards the practical needs of patients and relatives promoted dignity at the end of life, which could easily be lost when this awareness was missing. 2) They experienced that lack of staff, care continuity, professional competence or healthcare service coordination caused uncertainty and poor symptom alleviation. 3) Inadequate information to patient and family members generated unpredictable and distressing final illness trajectories. 4) Availability and professional support from healthcare providers created safety and enhanced coping in a difficult situation.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that hospitals caring for cancer patients at the end of life and their relatives, should systematically identify and attend to practical needs, as well as address important organizational issues. Education of staff members ought to emphasize how professional conduct and communication fundamentally affect patient care and relatives' coping.
BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Advance care planning (ACP) is communication about wishes and preferences for end-of-life care. ACP is not routinely used in any Norwegian hospitals. We performed a pilot study (2014-2017) introducing ACP on a thoracic medicine ward in Norway. The aims of this study were to explore which topics patients discussed during ACP conversations and to assess how patients, relatives and clinicians experienced the acceptability and feasibility of performing ACP.
METHODS: Conversations were led by a study nurse or physician using a semistructured guide, encouraging patients to talk freely. Each conversation was summarised in a report in the patient's medical record. At the end of the pilot period, clinicians discussed their experiences in focus group interviews. Reports and transcribed interviews were analysed using systematic text condensation.
RESULTS: Fifty-one patients participated in ACP conversations (41-86 years; 9 COPD, 41 lung cancer, 1 lung fibrosis; 11 women); 18 were accompanied by a relative. Four themes emerged: (1) disturbing symptoms, (2) existential topics, (3) care planning and (4) important relationships. All participants appreciated the conversations. Clinicians (1 physician and 7 nurses) participated in two focus group interviews. Reports from ACP conversations revealed patient values previously unknown to clinicians; important information was passed on to primary care. Fearing they would deprive patients of hope, clinicians acted as gatekeepers for recruitment. Although they reported barriers during recruitment, many clinicians saw ACP as pertinent and called for time and skills to integrate it into their daily clinical practice.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients, relatives and clinicians showed a positive attitude towards ACP. Focusing on present and future symptom control may be an acceptable way to introduce ACP. Important aspects for implementing ACP in this patient group are management support, education, training, feasible routines and allocated time to perform the conversations.
BACKGROUND: Inadequate description of palliative care cancer patients in research studies often leads to results having limited generalizability. To standardize the description of the sample, the European Association for Palliative Care basic data set was developed, with 31 core demographic and disease-related variables.
AIM: To pilot test the data set to check acceptability, comprehensibility and feasibility.
DESIGN: International, multi-centre pilot study at nine study sites in five European countries, using mixed methods.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Adult cancer patients and staff in palliative care units, hospices and home care.
RESULTS: In all, 191 patients (544 screened) and 190 health care personnel were included. Median time to fill in the patient form was 5 min and the health care personnel form was 7 min. Ethnicity was the most challenging item for patients and requires decisions at a national level about whether or how to include. Health care personnel found weight loss, principal diagnosis, additional diagnoses and stage of non-cancer diseases most difficult to respond to. Registration of diagnoses will be changed from International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th version code to a predefined list, while weight loss and stage of non-cancer diseases will be removed. The pilot study has led to rewording of items, improvement in response options and shortening of the data set to 29 items.
CONCLUSION: Pilot testing of the first version of the European Association for Palliative Care basic data set confirmed that patients and health care personnel understand the questions in a consistent manner and can answer within an acceptable timeframe. The pilot testing has led to improvement, and the new version is now subject to further testing.