CONTEXT: Although the number of studies on the economic impact of palliative care (PC) is growing, the great majority report costs from North America.
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of PC hospital cost components from the perspective of a European mixed funded health care system by identifying cost drivers of PC and quantifying their effect on hospital costs compared to usual care (UC).
METHODS: We performed a retrospective, observational analysis examining cost data from the last hospitalization of patients who died at a large academic hospital in Switzerland comparing patients receiving PC versus UC.
RESULTS: Total hospital costs were similar in PC and UC with a mean difference of CHF -2'777 [95% confidence interval (CI) -12'713 to 8'506, p=0.60]. Average costs per day decreased by CHF -3'224 [95% CI -3'811 to -2'631, p<0.001] for PC patients with significant reduction of costs for diagnostic intervention and medication. Higher cost components for PC patients were catering, room, nursing, social counselling and non-medical therapists. In sensitivity analyses, when we restricted PC exposure to 3 days from admission, total costs and average costs per day were significantly lower for PC.
CONCLUSION: Studies measuring the impact of PC on hospital costs should analyze various cost components beyond total costs in order to understand wanted and potentially unwanted cost-reducing effects. An international definition of a set of cost components, specific for cost-impact PC studies, may help avoid superficial and potentially dangerous cost discussions.
BACKGROUND: Intervention trials confirm that patients with advanced cancer receiving early palliative care experience a better quality of life and show improved knowledge about and use of palliative care services. To involve patients in future health-care decisions, health professionals should understand patients' perspectives. However, little is known about how patients' experience such interventions.
AIM: To explore advanced cancer patients' experiences with a structured early palliative care intervention, its acceptability and impact on the patients' life including influencing factors.
DESIGN: Qualitative content analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: Patients with various advanced cancer diagnoses were enrolled in a multicenter randomized controlled trial (NCT01983956), which investigated the impact of "Symptoms, End-of-life decisions, Network, Support," a structured early palliative care intervention, on distress. Of these, 20 patients who underwent the intervention participated in this study.
RESULTS: Participants received the intervention well and gained a better understanding of their personal situation. Patients reported that the intervention can feel "confronting" but with the right timing it can be confirming and facilitate family conversations. Patients' personal background and the intervention timing within their personal disease trajectory influenced their emotional and cognitive experiences; it also impacted their understanding of palliative care and triggered actions toward future care planning.
CONCLUSION: Early palliative care interventions like "Symptoms, End-of-life decisions, Network, Support" may provoke emotions and feel "confrontational" often because this is the first time when issues about one's end of life are openly discussed; yet, advanced cancer patients found it beneficial and felt it should be incorporated into routine care.
BACKGROUND: The Surprise Question (SQ) "would I be surprised if this patient were to die in the next 12 months?" has been suggested to help clinicians, and especially General Practitioners (GPs), identify people who might benefit from palliative care. The prognostic accuracy of this approach is unclear and little is known about how GPs use this tool in practice. Are GPs consistent, individually and as a group? Are there international differences in the use of the tool? Does including the alternative Surprise Question ("Would I be surprised if the patient were still alive after 12 months?") alter the response? What is the impact on the treatment plan in response to the SQ? This study aims to address these questions.
METHODS: An online study will be completed by 600 (100 per country) registered GPs. They will be asked to review 20 hypothetical patient vignettes. For each vignette they will be asked to provide a response to the following four questions: (1) the SQ [Yes/No]; (2) the alternative SQ [Yes/No]; (3) the percentage probability of dying [0% no chance - 100% certain death]; and (4) the proposed treatment plan [multiple choice]. A "surprise threshold" for each participant will be calculated by comparing the responses to the SQ with the probability estimates of death. We will use linear regression to explore any differences in thresholds between countries and other clinician-related factors, such as years of experience. We will describe the actions taken by the clinicians and explore the differences between groups. We will also investigate the relationship between the alternative SQ and the other responses. Participants will receive a certificate of completion and the option to receive feedback on their performance.
DISCUSSION: This study explores the extent to which the SQ is consistently used at an individual, group, and national level. The findings of this study will help to understand the clinical value of using the SQ in routine practice.
Le but de cette recherche était de déterminer les pratiques et les attitudes des professionnels de santé en Amérique latine concernant la sédation palliative. Les données ont été recueillies lors du Congrès latino-américain sur les soins palliatifs à Isla Margarita au Venezuela où 89 professionnels ont participé à cette enquête.