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made the decisions, the type and date of documentation confirming patient's LST, and whether the LST was withheld or withdrawn.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.
Metabolic intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) is known to be related with cancer treatment outcome. However, information on the temporal changes in metabolic ITH during chemotherapy and the correlations between metabolic changes and treatment outcomes in patients with pancreatic cancer is sparse. We aimed to analyze the temporal changes in metabolic ITH and the predictive role of its changes in advanced pancreatic cancer patients who underwent palliative chemotherapy. Methods: We prospectively enrolled unresectable locally advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer patients before first-line palliative chemotherapy. [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography was performed at baseline (T1) and at the first response follow-up (T2). Standardized uptake values (SUVs), volumetric parameters, and textural features of the primary pancreatic tumor were analyzed. Relationships between the parameters at T1, T2, and changes in the parameters with treatment response, progression-free survival (PFS), and overall survival (OS) were assessed. Results: Among 63 enrolled patients, the best objective response rate was 25.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.6% to 37.0%). The median PFS and OS were 7.1 months (95% CI, 5.1 to 9.7 months) and 10.1 months (95% CI, 8.6 to 12.7 months), respectively. Most of the parameters changed significantly during the first-line chemotherapy, in a way of reducing ITH. Metabolic ITH was more profoundly reduced in responders than in nonresponders. Multiple Cox regression analysis identified high baseline compacity (P = 0.023) and smaller decreases in SUVpeak (P = 0.007) and entropygray-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM) (P = 0.033) to be independently associated with poor PFS. Patients with a high CA 19-9 (P = 0.042), high pretreatment SUVpeak (P = 0.008), and high coefficient of variance at T2 (P = 0.04) showed worse OS. Conclusion: Reduction in metabolic ITH during palliative chemotherapy in advanced pancreatic cancer patients is associated with treatment response and might be predictive of PFS and OS.
OBJECTIVES: This study determined attitudes of four groups-Korean patients with cancer, their family caregivers, physicians and the general Korean population-towards five critical end-of-life (EOL) interventions-active pain control, withdrawal of futile life-sustaining treatment (LST), passive euthanasia, active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
DESIGN AND SETTING: We enrolled 1001 patients with cancer and 1006 caregivers from 12 large hospitals in Korea, 1241 members of the general population and 928 physicians from each of the 12 hospitals and the Korean Medical Association. We analysed the associations of demographic factors, attitudes towards death and the important components of a 'good death' with critical interventions at EoL care.
RESULTS: All participant groups strongly favoured active pain control and withdrawal of futile LST but differed in attitudes towards the other four EoL interventions. Physicians (98.9%) favoured passive euthanasia more than the other three groups. Lower proportions of the four groups favoured active euthanasia or PAS. Multiple logistic regression showed that education (adjusted OR (aOR) 1.77, 95% CI 1.33 to 2.36), caregiver role (aOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.34 to 2.08) and considering death as the ending of life (aOR 1.66, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.61) were associated with preference for active pain control. Attitudes towards death, including belief in being remembered (aOR 2.03, 95% CI 1.48 to 2.79) and feeling ‘life was meaningful’ (aOR 2.56, 95% CI 1.58 to 4.15) were both strong correlates of withdrawal of LST with the level of monthly income (aOR 2.56, 95% CI 1.58 to 4.15). Believing ‘freedom from pain’ negatively predicted preference for passive euthanasia (aOR 0.69, 95% CI 0.55 to 0.85). In addition, ‘not being a burden to the family’ was positively related to preferences for active euthanasia (aOR 1.62, 95% CI 1.39 to 1.90) and PAS (aOR 1.61, 95% CI 1.37 to 1.89).
CONCLUSION: Groups differed in their attitudes towards the five EoL interventions, and those attitudes were significantly associated with various attitudes towards death.
PURPOSE: Understanding the concept of a "good death" is crucial to end-of-life care, but our current understanding of what constitutes a good death is insufficient. Here, we investigated the components of a good death that are important to the general population, cancer patients, their families, and physicians.
METHODS: We conducted a stratified nationwide cross-sectional survey of cancer patients and their families from 12 hospitals, physicians from 12 hospitals and the Korean Medical Association, and the general population, investigating their attitudes toward 10 good-death components.
FINDINGS: Three components-"not be a burden to the family," "presence of family," and "resolve unfinished business"-were considered the most important components by more than 2/3 of each of the three groups, and an additional three components-"freedom from pain," "feel that life was meaningful," and "at peace with God"-were considered important by all but the physicians group. Physicians considered "feel life was meaningful," "presence of family," and "not be a burden to family" as the core components of a good death, with "freedom from pain" as an additional component. "Treatment choices' followed, "finances in order," "mentally aware," and "die at home" were found to be the least important components among all four groups.
CONCLUSION: While families strongly agreed that "presence of family" and "not be a burden to family" were important to a good death, the importance of other factors differed between the groups. Health care providers should attempt to discern each patient's view of a good death.
Integrated early palliative care (EPC) improves quality of life and reduces psychological distress in adult patients with cancer and caregivers, but attitudes toward EPC have been poorly studied. We aimed to investigate attitudes toward EPC in a nationwide survey of patients with cancer and caregivers. From July to October 2016, we administered nationwide questionnaires examining attitudes toward EPC in patients with cancer (n = 1001) and their families (n = 1006) from 12 Korean hospitals. When an individual considered EPC unnecessary, the reasons were collected and analyzed. Factors associated with perception of EPC were examined. A majority of patients (84.5%) and caregivers (89.5%) had positive attitudes toward EPC. The most common reasons for deeming EPC unnecessary were that EPC may be an obstacle to cancer treatment (patients: 37%; caregivers: 23%; respectively) or that they were not sure if EPC is beneficial (patients: 21%; caregivers: 24%; respectively). Financial burden as a reason was more evident in caregivers (23%) than in patients (17%). Male gender, age <50, early stage, intensive care unit admission, and not believing that dying people should prepare to practice charity were associated with patients' negative attitudes. In caregivers, opposition to EPC was associated with not thinking death should be feared, not thinking people should be remembered, and lower educational level. Our findings showed that significant numbers of patients with advanced cancer and family caregivers showed positive attitudes toward EPC. However, more than 10% of participants did not consider EPC necessary. Physicians' communication with patients and caregivers and financial support could help overcome the barriers of EPC.
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 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.