To individually plan end-of-life care, open communication about a person's preferences and attitudes toward the end of life can facilitate dignity and quality of life in patients and relatives. To improve communication, structured guiding tools might be used as door openers. However, most tools focus on care preferences and decisions without assessing the person's underlying attitudes in detail. This study aims to get insights into specific requirements and conditions for communication about the end of life in various end-of-life care settings. Four focus groups were conducted with volunteers and professionals from nursing and psychosocial care (16 females, 2 males) working in hospice and palliative care and long-term care settings in Germany. A semistructured interview guideline on experiences and aspects associated with end-of-life conversations was used. Interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed by a content analytic approach. Having end-of-life discussions primarily depended on a pleasant atmosphere, trusting bonds between conversation partners, and professional attitudes of staff members. Nursing home staff felt obligated to initiate conversations, but some reported insecurities doing so. Starting "early," including relatives, and having continuous discussions seemed beneficial for end-of-life conversations. Implementing conversations into existing care structures and using low-threshold impulses to start conversations were helpful. Individualized approaches should be preferred. Each staff member can be a partner in detailed conversations about end-of-life attitudes, but some felt unprepared doing so. Further skill training concerning end-of-life discussions is needed. Communication might be facilitated by open-format tools using low-threshold impulses when conditions of the care setting are considered.
PURPOSE: Palliative care (PC) involves many health care providers leading to a high complexity of structures that requires efficient coordination as provided by case management (CM). Our study aimed to evaluate the effects of CM newly implemented in a specialised palliative care unit by evaluating team members' tasks and time resources before (T0) and after implementation (T1). It was hypothesised that team members would be able to spend less time on organisational and administrative tasks and more time on patient care.
METHODS: A prospective pre-post study design was used. Time distribution of different tasks at T0 and T1 was compared between three different professional groups: physicians, nursing staff and social work. To document their tasks and time required, a documentation form with several items for each profession was developed. Data was analysed using t tests for independent samples.
RESULTS: After Bonferroni correction, a significant pre-post difference was found for the time spent on "discharge interview and discharge" as rated by the physicians (p < .001) with less time spent on this activity after CM implementation. The nursing staff had significantly more time for "conversations with patients" (p < .001) after CM implementation. Moreover, they spent significantly less time on "patient-related requests/advice by telephone" (p < .001) and "discussions with relatives/participation in family discussions" at post-assessment (p < .001). The social worker had significantly more time for "patient advice and support services" (p = .013) after CM implementation.
CONCLUSIONS: Integrating CM can be time efficient and ensures team members to spend more time on their core tasks in patient care.
INTRODUCTION: The last year of life constitutes a particularly vulnerable phase for patients, involving nearly all health and social care structures. Yet, little scientific evidence is available that provides insight into the trajectories including the number and types of care setting transitions, transitions into palliative care and the dying phase. Only few studies have focused on difficulties associated with having to move between health and social care settings in the last year of life, although patients face a significant risk of adverse events. The Last Year of Life Study Cologne (LYOL-C) aims to fill this gap.
METHODS AND ANALYSIS: LYOL-C is a mixed-methods study composed of four steps: (1) Claims data collected by the statutory health insurance funds of deceased persons will be analysed with regard to patient care trajectories, health service transitions and costs in the last year of life. (2) Patient trajectories and transitions in healthcare will additionally be reconstructed by analysing the retrospective accounts of bereaved relatives (n=400) using a culturally adapted version of the Views of Informal Carers-Evaluation of Services Short Form questionnaire and the Patient Assessment of Care for Chronic Conditions Short Form questionnaire adapted for relatives. (3) Qualitative interviews with bereaved relatives (n=40-60) will provide in-depth insight into reasons for transitions and effects on patients' quality of life. (4) Focus groups (n=3-5) with Healthcare Professionals will be conducted to discuss challenges associated with transitions in the last year of life.
ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Ethical approval has been obtained from the Ethics Commission of the Faculty of Medicine of Cologne University (#17-188). Results will be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences.
TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: The study is registered in the German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS00011925) and in the Health Services Research Database (VfD_CoRe-Net_17_003806).
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to elucidate the views on life as narrated by patients in palliative care (PC) to find out what patients deem to be essential in their life, whether something has changed concerning their view of life in light of the disease, and whether interviewees would like to give others something to take with them.
METHOD: Data were collected from narrative audio and video interviews with 18 inpatients in a specialized PC unit. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim and analyzed using qualitative content analysis applying MAXQDA software. CDs and DVDs with recorded interviews were provided to patients. Result Eighteen interviews were analyzed: 11 audio and 7 video recordings. The age range was 41-80 years. Patients reported on changes in their views on life. Despite it being a complex and painful process, patients still gave examples of benefits experienced during their illness trajectory. Patients identified resources and coping strategies such as meaningful contacts with close others and mindfulness. Shifts have occurred in terms of taking more time for themselves, enjoying the moment, being more calm, and spending more time with family and friends. What patients wanted to pass on to others was to pay attention to the needs of both the self and the others, shape your life individually, confront yourself early with issues of death and dying, and care for your fellow human beings. Patients and relatives valued the opportunity to keep their interview as a CD/DVD. Significance of results: Results support the idea that many people facing terminal illness continue to focus on living and remain within their biographies and the contexts of their lives, even if their functional status declines. Patients and relatives appreciated that interviews were provided as kind of a legacy. Yet, more robust research is needed to decide whether such interviews yield any therapeutic effect.
BACKGROUND: At the end of life, anxious attitudes concerning the dying process are common in patients in Palliative Care. Measurement tools can identify vulnerabilities, resources and the need for subsequent treatment to relieve suffering and support well-being.
AIM: To systematically review available tools measuring attitudes towards dying, their operationalization, the method of measurement and the methodological quality including generalizability to different contexts.
DESIGN: Systematic review according to the PRISMA Statement. Methodological quality of tools assessed by standardized review criteria.
DATA SOURCES: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, PsyndexTests and the Health and Psychosocial Instruments were searched from their inception to April 2017.
RESULTS: A total of 94 identified studies reported the development and/or validation of 44 tools. Of these, 37 were questionnaires and 7 alternative measurement methods (e.g. projective measures). In 34 of 37 questionnaires, the emotional evaluation (e.g. anxiety) towards dying is measured. Dying is operationalized in general items (n = 20), in several specific aspects of dying (n = 34) and as dying of others (n = 14). Methodological quality of tools was reported inconsistently. Nine tools reported good internal consistency. Of 37 tools, 4 were validated in a clinical sample (e.g. terminal cancer; Huntington disease), indicating questionable generalizability to clinical contexts for most tools.
CONCLUSION: Many tools exist to measure attitudes towards the dying process using different endpoints. This overview can serve as decision framework on which tool to apply in which contexts. For clinical application, only few tools were available. Further validation of existing tools and potential alternative methods in various populations is needed.