Introduction: The early integration of palliative care into standard cancer treatment has become a global standard. The Palliative care Emphasis program on symptom management and Assessment for Continuous medical Education (PEACE) has been conducted in Japan, and previous studies have reported that the PEACE workshop was able to improve various palliative care skills of participants. However, whether or not the effects of the program are long-lasting and if the program consequently changed physicians' practice with regard to lung cancer patients have been unclear.
Methods: Web-based surveys, including the palliative care knowledge test (PEACE-Q), the Palliative Care self-reported Practice Scale (PCPS), and the Palliative Care Difficulties Scale (PCDS), were conducted among lung cancer physicians in Japan. The differences in the survey results between participants and non-participants of the PEACE workshop were examined. Results: Among 923 respondents (455 respiratory physicians, 345 pulmonary surgeons, and 123 others), 519 had participated in the PEACE workshop. The total PEACE-Q score was significantly higher in the PEACE workshop participants than in non-participants (28.0 versus 24.5, p<0.0001). The score was significantly higher in respiratory physicians than in pulmonary surgeons (27.4 versus 25.5). The total PCPS and PCDS scores were also significantly better in workshop participants than in non-participants (71.8 versus 67.1 and 34.3 versus 36.9, respectively), although some domains of PCDS were similar between the groups. Conclusion: The PEACE program improved the knowledge and practices with regard to palliative care and resolved difficulties associated therewith among lung cancer physicians. In regions where palliative care specialists are insufficient, such educational programs may be effective.
CONTEXT: Dyspnea is a common distressing symptom among patients with advanced cancer.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the effect of fan therapy on dyspnea in patients with terminally ill cancer.
METHODS: This parallel-arm, randomized controlled trial included 40 patients with advanced cancer from a palliative care unit at the National Cancer Center Hospital in Japan. All patients experienced dyspnea at rest with a score of at least three points on a subjective 0- to 10-point Numerical Rating Scale (NRS), showed peripheral oxygen saturation levels of =90%, had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group grade of 3 or 4, and were aged 20 years or more. In one group, a fan was directed to blow air on the patient's face for five minutes. This group was compared to a control group wherein air was blown to the patient's legs. Patients were randomly assigned to each group. The main outcome measure was the difference in dyspnea NRS scores between fan-to-face and fan-to-legs groups.
RESULTS: No significant differences were seen in baseline dyspnea NRS between groups (mean score, 5.3 vs. 5.1, P = 0.665). Mean dyspnea changed by -1.35 points (95% CI, -1.86 to -0.84) in patients assigned to receive fan-to-face and by -0.1 points (-0.53 to 0.33) in patients assigned to receive fan-to-legs (P < 0.001). The proportion of patients with a one-point reduction in dyspnea NRS was significantly higher in the fan-to-face arm than in the fan-to-legs arm (80% [n = 16] vs. 25% [n = 5], P = 0.001).
CONCLUSION: Fan-to-face is effective in alleviating dyspnea in patients with terminally ill cancer.
BACKGROUND: Dyspnea is common in interstitial lung disease (ILD) patients and often refractory to conventional treatment. Little is known regarding the safety of systemic morphine in ILD patients.
OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study is to evaluate the safety of a single subcutaneous morphine injection and to determine the recommended dose of morphine for alleviating dyspnea in ILD patients.
DESIGN: We conducted a dose-escalation Phase I study for investigating the recommended dose of a single subcutaneous morphine injection to alleviate dyspnea in ILD patients.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Eligible subjects were ILD inpatients with dyspnea at rest who were refractory to conventional dyspnea treatment. The morphine doses used were 1 mg and 2 mg in cohort 1 and cohort 2, respectively. The primary endpoint was dose-limiting toxicity, which was defined as (1) respiratory depression, that is, 30% reduction of respiratory rate and 10 Torr increase of PaCO2 compared with baseline; (2) hypotension, that is, 20% reduction of systemic blood pressure compared with baseline and presentation of hypotension-related symptoms; or (3) grade 3, 4, or 5 treatment-emergent adverse events graded by Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (version 4).
RESULTS: A total of six patients were enrolled, with three patients each in cohorts 1 and 2. No dose-limiting toxicities were observed; three patients experienced worsened somnolence, but no patients experienced sedation.
CONCLUSION: We conclude that 2 mg of morphine has a tolerable safety profile in ILD patients with dyspnea, and can be tested in further clinical trials.
BACKGROUND: Although place of death has been recognized as a risk factor in caregivers' bereavement adjustment, the estimation of the effect of the place of death needs careful consideration about many potential cofounders.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: This study was a nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire survey for bereaved family caregivers of patients with cancer who died in 3 settings: (1) hospice at home; (2) palliative care units (PCUs); and (3) acute hospitals. We assessed bereaved caregivers' depression, grief, insomnia, and the quality of dying of deceased patients across the 3 groups using propensity score weighting.
RESULTS: A total of 8968 responses were analyzed. According to scores on Patient Health Questionnaire 9, depressive symptoms were significantly higher in bereaved caregivers of patients who had died in acute hospitals (5.7; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 5.3-6.2) than for those of patients who had died in hospice at home (4.8; 95% CI: 4.4-5.1) or PCU (5.1; 95% CI: 5.0-5.2). Grief symptoms measured by Brief Grief Questionnaire were also significantly higher in caregivers of patients who had died in acute hospitals (5.0; 95% CI: 4.8-5.2) than those of patients who had died in hospice at home (4.7; 95% CI: 4.5-4.9) or PCU (4.7; 95% CI: 4.7-4.8). Deceased patients' quality of dying was highest in hospice at home, and worst in acute hospital.
CONCLUSIONS: The place where a cancer patient dies influences not only their quality of dying and death but also the mental health of their family caregivers. However, the absolute difference is not large after adjustment of multiple variables.