Background: Moral distress is a frequent phenomenon in end-of-life care. It occurs when one knows the morally correct response to an ethically challenging situation, but cannot act because of internal or external constraints. Medical students-having a perceived low level in the hospital hierarchy-may be particularly vulnerable to moral distress.
Objective: To assess the frequency and intensity of medical students' moral distress occurring in end-of-life care.
Design: We developed a questionnaire describing 10 potentially morally distressing scenarios in end-of-life care.
Setting: The questionnaire was distributed to all fourth-year students of a German medical school.
Measurements: We asked students (1) if they had ever witnessed the described scenarios and (2) to rate the extent (numeric rating scale 0-4) of moral distress for each situation.
Results: Of 340 students, 217 (64%) completed the survey. On average, students had experienced 2.51 morally distressing situations (standard deviation = ±2.23). The majority of students (N = 163, 75%) had experienced at least one morally distressing situation. Providing futile care with the basic intention to make money was the item with the highest levels of experienced distress (2.88 ± 1.05), witnessed by 54 (25%) participants. Twenty-five students (12%) reported that they had thought about dropping out of medical school or choosing a nonclinical specialty because of moral distress.
Conclusions: Medical students experience moral distress regularly and most frequently in scenarios of futile care. This may be an underestimated factor for medical school attrition. Interventions should identify the sources of moral distress and empower students to address their moral concerns.
BACKGROUND: In Germany, practice patterns of conservative renal care (CRC), dialysis withdrawal (DW), and concomitant palliative care in patients who choose these options are unknown.
METHOD: A survey was designed including 13 structured and one open questions on the management and frequency of CRC and DW, local palliative care structure, and fundamentals of the decision-making process, and addressed to the head physicians of all renal centers (n = 193) of a non-profit renal care provider (KfH - Kuratorium für Dialyse und Nierentransplantation, Neu-Isenburg, Germany).
RESULTS: Response rate was 62.2% (n = 122 centers) comprising 14,197 prevalent dialysis patients and 159,652 renal outpatients. Two-thirds of the respondents were men (85% in the age group between 45 and 64 years). Mean time of experience in renal medicine was 22.2 years in men, 20.8 years in women. 94% of all centers provided CRC with a different frequency and proportion of patients (mean 8.4% of the center population, median 5%, range 0-50%). Mean proportion of DW was 2.85% per year (median 2%, range 1-15%). Physicians and center features were not significantly associated with utilization of CRC or DW. Palliative care management varied including local palliative teams, support by general physicians, or by the renal team itself. Hospice care was only established in patients undergoing CRC. Fundamentals of the decision-making process were the desire of the patient (90% in CRC, 67% in DW). Patients undergoing CRC changed their opinion towards treatment modality "frequently" in 18% of the cases, "occasionally" in 73%. Physicians' decisions were mostly driven by presumed fatal prognosis and poor physical or mental conditions of the individual patient. Different barriers to provide palliative care for the renal population like lack of education in palliative medicine, shortness of staff, lack of financial resources, and local palliative care structures were reported.
CONCLUSION: Compared to international numbers, in Germany, proportion of CRC and DW reported by non-profit renal centers is in the lower range. Center practice of palliative care management varies and is driven by availability of local palliative care resources and presumably by attitudes of the renal teams. Quality of palliative care and the decision-making process need further evaluation.
BACKGROUND: The number of old patients suffering from colorectal cancer rises. In clinical trials, old patients are underrepresented, and chemotherapy is significantly less often performed in elderly patients. We analyzed the impact of elder age for palliative chemotherapy in patients suffering from metastatic colorectal cancer, according to therapeutic drugs used, intensity of treatment performed, and therapeutic results.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analyzed consecutive patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated in palliative intention in our department. Assessed data included age (> 75 years), sex, comorbidity, site of primary tumor, k-ras-status, site and amount of metastasis, number and kind of chemotherapeutic agents used, number of consecutive therapy lines performed, dose intensity, toxicity, time between start and end of palliative chemotherapy, and overall survival. Prognostic variables were tested in uni- and multivariate analysis.
RESULTS: Ninety-seven patients (69 < 75, 18 > 75 years) were included. Age groups were well balanced according to site of primary tumor, k-ras-mutational status, localization, and number of metastatic sites. Cardial and renal comorbidity was more frequent in elderly patients. The median number of chemotherapeutic drugs used and lines of therapy performed did not differ between age groups, except of oxaliplatin, which was significantly less often used in old patients. Median survival did not differ between age groups (23.4 vs. 23.5 months). In multivariate analysis, only left-sided primary tumor and more than 3 lines of therapy performed were prognostic positive variables.
CONCLUSION: Old patients can profit from palliative chemotherapy to the same extent as younger ones.
OBJECTIVE: To describe psycho-oncological care structures and processes in German breast cancer centres from the perspective of the centre administration.
METHODS: The findings are based on a postal survey of a representative random sample of surgical sites of certified breast cancer centres in Germany. Data were collected in 2013 and 2014. The questionnaire included questions about infrastructure, patient information standards, psycho-oncological services and aspects of organisational culture. Data analyses included frequencies, means and bivariate relationships.
RESULTS: The return rate was 88.3% (53 hospital sites). Psycho-oncological care is provided by permanent employees in 87%. The average number of full-time-equivalent employees (FTE) is 1.23. Most breast cancer centres engage the occupational group of psycho-oncologists for psycho-oncological care (90%), followed by the medical service (80%) and breast care nurses (78%) (multiple answers were possible). The correlation coefficient between FTEs and surgical treatments per year is not significant (r=0.292, p=0.051). Hospitals are screening every inpatient for the need of psycho-oncological support in 76% of all sites. Frequently used screening instruments are distress thermometer (19%), clinical interview (13%) and basic psycho-oncological documentation (11%).
CONCLUSION: Our data provide insights into the self-reported structural and procedural quality of psycho-oncological care in German breast cancer centres. Further research should examine patient and caregiver perspective on the psycho-oncological services provided by breast cancer centres.
PURPOSE: The diagnosis of a terminal disease bears existential challenges, which activate the attachment system. Attachment insecurity, as well as existential resources, such as spiritual well-being, influences patients' extent of psychological distress. Knowledge about the interrelation of these constructs is limited. Based on current research, we assume spiritual well-being to mediate the association of attachment insecurity and psychological distress.
METHODS: We obtained data from the baseline measurement of a randomized controlled trial in advanced cancer patients. Patients were sampled from the University Medical Centers of Hamburg and Leipzig, Germany. Main outcome measures included the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), the Death and Dying Distress Scale (DADDS), the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale (FACIT-Sp), and the Experience in Close Relationships Scale (ECR-M16) for assessing attachment insecurity. We tested the mediation hypothesis with two regression analyses using bootstrapping procedure.
RESULTS: A total of 190 patients were included. Spiritual well-being mediated the association of attachment insecurity and depression (R2 = 11%), as well as death anxiety (R2 = 15%), in fearful-avoidant attached patients. Neither dismissingly nor preoccupied attached patients differ in terms of spiritual well-being and psychological distress in comparison with secure attached patients.
CONCLUSION: Spiritual well-being plays a relevant role in advanced cancer patient's mental health through mediating the association of attachment and psychological distress. Developing a better understanding of the interdependency of the constructs of spiritual well-being and attachment can help to develop individually tailored advanced cancer care programs and psychotherapeutic interventions.
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.
While feelings of disgust and repulsion are experienced and accepted as part of care practices of nurses who work in palliative care, they are often silenced. Working alongside two palliative care nurses in a hospice setting, we engaged in a narrative inquiry to inquire into their experiences of disgust. The study took place in a palliative care setting in a large urban city in Germany. We understand care practices as actions that follow a logic of care. According to a logic of care, actions are situated within a social context, given by specific relationships including power, and individual needs. Various aspects of disgust are visible in the experiences of the participants and highlighted in the narrative threads of disgust and silence, disgust and protection, and disgust and boundaries. Embedded in the experience of disgust of nurses working in palliative care, we see that there are borderlands of care that challenge who we are and are becoming. Opening discussion about disgust in nursing makes visible the complexity of care.
BACKGROUND: A prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting disease raises complex ethical, emotional, and medical issues. Studies suggest that 40%-85% of parents decide to continue the pregnancy if given the option of Perinatal Palliative Care. However, structured Perinatal Palliative Care programs are missing in many European countries. In Germany, parents have the right to free psychosocial support from pregnancy counseling services after the prenatal diagnosis of a life-limiting disease.
AIM: We aimed to investigate whether German professional pregnancy counselors perceive the need for structured Perinatal Palliative Care and if so, how it should be conceived.
DESIGN: This is a qualitative interview study with purposeful sampling. The interviews were analyzed with the coding method of Saldaña.
SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: A total of 10 professionals from three different pregnancy counseling services participated in the study.
RESULTS: The main topics raised by the professionals were as follows: (1) counseling and parental support during the decision-making process; (2) fragmented or missing support infrastructure for parents; and (3) challenges, hesitations, and barriers, particularly from the different stakeholders, regarding a Perinatal Palliative Care framework. They highlighted the importance of the integration of Perinatal Palliative Care in existing structures, a multi-professional approach, continuous coordination of care and education for all healthcare providers involved.
CONCLUSION: A structured Perinatal Palliative Care program is considered as necessary by the pregnancy counselors. Future research should focus on (1) needs reported by concerned parents; (2) attitude and role of all healthcare providers involved; (3) strategies to include stakeholders in the development of Perinatal Palliative Care networks; and (4) outcome parameters for evaluation of Perinatal Palliative Care frameworks.
OBJECTIVE: To assess changes in attitudes of neonatologists regarding the care of extremely preterm infants and parental involvement over the last 20 years.
STUDY DESIGN: Internet-based survey (2016) involving 170 tertiary neonatal intensive care units in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany using the European Project on Parents' Information and Ethical Decision Making in Neonatal Intensive Care Units questionnaire (German edition) with minor modifications to the original survey from 1996 to 1997.
RESULTS: The 2016 survey included 104 respondents (52.5% response rate). In 2016, significantly more neonatologists reported having ever withheld intensive care treatment (99% vs 69%) and withdrawn mechanical ventilation (96% vs 61%) or life-saving drugs (99% vs 79%), compared with neonatologists surveyed in 1996-1997. Fewer considered limiting intensive care as a slippery slope possibly leading to abuse (18% vs 48%). In the situation of a deteriorating clinical condition despite all treatment, significantly more neonatologists would ask parental opinion about continuation of intensive care (49% vs 18%). In 2016, 21% of German neonatologists would resuscitate a hypothetical infant at the limits of viability, even against parental wishes.
CONCLUSIONS: Withholding or withdrawing intensive care for extremely preterm infants at the limits of viability with parental involvement has become more acceptable than it was 20 years ago. However, resuscitating extremely preterm infants against parental wishes remains an option for up to one-fifth of the responding neonatologists in this survey.
OBJECTIVE: Death acceptance may indicate positive adaptation in cancer patients. Little is known about what characterizes patients with different levels of death acceptance or its impact on psychological distress. We aimed to broaden the understanding of death acceptance by exploring associated demographic, medical and psychological characteristics.
METHODS: At baseline, we studied 307 mixed cancer patients attending the University Cancer Center Hamburg and a specialized lung cancer center (age M=59.6, 69% female, 69% advanced cancer). At one-year follow-up, 153 patients participated. We assessed death acceptance using the validated Life Attitude Profile-Revised. Patients further completed the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale, the Demoralization Scale, the Patient Health Questionnaire, and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire. Statistical analyses included multinomial and hierarchical regression analyses.
RESULTS: At baseline, mean death acceptance was 4.33 (SD=1.3, range 1-7). There was no change to follow-up (p=.26). When all variables were entered simultaneously, patients who experienced high death acceptance were more likely to be older (OR=1.04, 95%CI 1.01-1.07), male (OR=3.59, 95%CI 1.35-9.56), widowed (OR=3.24, 95%CI 1.01-10.41), and diagnosed with stage IV (OR=2.44, 95%CI 1.27-4.71). They were less likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer (OR=.20, 95%CI .07-.58) and their death acceptance was lower with every month since diagnosis (OR=.99, 95%CI.98-.99). High death acceptance predicted lower demoralization and anxiety at follow-up, but not depression.
CONCLUSIONS: High death acceptance was adaptive. It predicted lower existential distress and anxiety after one year. Advanced cancer did not preclude death acceptance, supporting the elaboration of death-related concerns in psychosocial interventions.
Objective: The prevalence of depression as well as adjustment and anxiety disorders is high in advanced cancer patients, and research exploring intraindividual factors leading to high psychological distress is underrepresented. Cancer patients' feelings about security and trust in their healthcare providers have a significant influence on how they deal with their disease. The perception of social support is affected by patients' attachment styles and influences their reactions to feelings of dependency and loss of control. We therefore aimed to explore attachment and its association with psychological distress in patients with advanced cancer.
Method: We obtained data from the baseline measurements of a randomized controlled trial in advanced cancer patients. Patients were sampled from the university medical centers of Hamburg and Leipzig, Germany. The main outcome measures included the Patient Health Questionnaire, the Death and Dying Distress Scale, the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale, and the Experience in Close Relationships Scale for assessing attachment insecurity.
Results: A total of 162 patients were included. We found that 64% of patients were insecurely attached (fearful-avoidant 31%, dismissing 17%, and preoccupied 16%). A dismissing attachment style was associated with more physical symptoms but did not predict psychological distress. A fearful-avoidant attachment style significantly predicted higher death anxiety and depression, whereas preoccupied attachment predicted higher death anxiety only. Overall, insecure attachment contributed to the prediction of depression (10%) and death anxiety (14%).
Significance of results: The concept of attachment plays a relevant role in advanced cancer patients' mental health. Healthcare providers can benefit from knowledge of advanced cancer patients' attachment styles and how they relate to specific mental distress. Developing a better understanding of patients' reactions to feelings of dependency and distressing emotions can help us to develop individually tailored advanced cancer care programs and psychotherapeutic interventions.
BACKGROUND: In Germany, some units of specialized palliative care (SPC) offer a 6- to 12-month rotation for resident physicians (RPs) and fellows from different specialties.
OBJECTIVE: This pilot study aimed to evaluate feasibility of assessing palliative care knowledge (PCK) and palliative care self-efficacy (PCSE) using a paper-based questionnaire.
METHODS: Palliative care knowledge and PCSE were assessed by introducing a score, followed by a descriptive analysis (determination of frequency, mean, median, and range) using nonparametric tests ( 2 test, Mannâ€“Whitney U test).
RESULTS:: We assessed 17 RPs following SPC rotation and 16 board-certified specialists (BCSs) who had no experience in SPC from 3 German comprehensive cancer centers. Resident physicians were predominantly enrolled in residency programs of hematology and oncology (n = 6), anesthesiology (n = 6), and psychosomatic medicine (n = 3). Resident physicians rotated between year 1 and 8 of residency. Fifteen RPs (88%) had elected this rotation and 72% preferred 12-month duration. The total PCK score of PCK was 27 (RPs) and 24 (BCSs; P = .002). Mean PCSE scores were 46 (RPs) and 39 (BCSs; P = .016). Of 71% of RPs, only 27% of BCSs knew how support of hospice service was initiated ( P = .004). Participants rated the items as comprehensible (n = 24; 73%), relevant (n = 25; 76%) and the questionnaire as adequately long (n = 23; 70%).
CONCLUSION: An improved PCK and PCSE were observed in physicians who rotated through an SPC unit; this resulted in an increased tangibility of local palliative care and hospice services. The questionnaire was comprehensible, relevant in terms of content, and adequate in length for a prospective multicenter survey.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Breathlessness is a highly prevalent and distressing symptom in patients with cancer and advanced chronic diseases. Symptom management is often overlooked. We explored the experiences of patients, caregivers, and health care providers (HCPs) and their expectations for future service developments.
DESIGN: This is a multiperspective qualitative study drawing on semistructured interviews.
SETTING/SUBJECTS: Participants were recruited from palliative, respiratory, and cardiology departments of the Munich University Hospital and from a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patient group.
MEASUREMENTS: Interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Subcategories used the directional views of participants (positive, negative, and indifferent). The coding tree identified three categories: (1) attributes of symptom management, (2) practice pattern gaps, and (3) components of good practice.
RESULTS: Ten patients (5 female, 65.2 median age; COPD n = 3, cancer n = 3, chronic heart failure n = 2, and lung fibrosis n = 2), 3 caregivers (2 female, 53.6 median age), and 10 HCPs were interviewed. Patients and caregivers felt stressed and frustrated due to a lack of awareness regarding the symptom burden and little support from HCPs. HCPs pointed to a lack of therapeutic concepts and unclear assumptions of responsibilities. Specialist breathlessness services are perceived as addressing important gaps in professional practice from the viewpoint of all stakeholders. Accessibility and collaboration with other local health care services are important features of such specialist services.
CONCLUSIONS: Chronic refractory breathlessness in advanced disease is managed insufficiently for most patients, caregivers, and HCPs. Increased knowledge about effective interventions and availability of skills-based training for patients, caregivers, and HCPs would help in breathlessness management.
BACKGROUND: Internationally, efforts are underway to develop coordinated and standardized approaches for palliative care service delivery by improving service quality in hospice and palliative care networks. German legal regulations explicitly demand networking between hospice and palliative care providers. However, there is little research on models of cooperation and the building and development of hospice and palliative care networks. Research-based recommendations for network building and advancement are lacking.
OBJECTIVE: The study aim was to develop empirical recommendations for the building of new and advancement of existing hospice and palliative care networks in Bavaria, Germany.
METHODS: The project utilized a qualitative approach. The research project was structured in six sequential phases: 1) semi-structured individual interviews on status quo of networks, 2) a workshop including a focus group to develop definitions of key terms and prioritize major network themes, 3) semi-structured face-to-face interviews on factors enabling and inhibiting cooperation, 4) drafting of a recommendation for regional hospice and palliative care networks, 5) an online consensus survey questionnaire to rate relevance and feasibility of the draft recommendation and an internal consensus meeting to revise the draft, and 6) an expert workshop to develop examples of realization. Coordinators and chairpersons of 12 hospice and palliative care networks constitute the study population for study phases 1 to 3, 5, and 6. Network representatives partook in one (n=6), two (n=6), three (n=4), four (n=2), or all five (n=1) of the study phases 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Further experts participated in one (n=10) or both (n=1) of the phases 5 and 6.
RESULTS: Recommendations were drafted for six thematic fields: (i) missions and aims, (ii) roles and responsibilities, (iii) coordination, (iv) communication and information channels, (v) public visibility, and (vi) funding. The whole set of recommendations was rated by 90% of the participants to be fully or somewhat important for network building and development. A total of 22 recommendations was approved.
CONCLUSIONS: The call for establishing and developing standards for hospice and palliative care networks was situated within the current policy climate of Germany and the broader international community. The present recommendations can aid implementation of this request and have a strong relevance for practice.
Purpose: Little is known about the attitudes of radiation oncologists towards palliative care, about their competences in this field, and about the collaboration with palliative care specialists. Our aim was to close this gap and understand more about the importance of an additional qualification in palliative care.
Methods: Medical members of the German Society for Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) were electronically surveyed during Novemberâ€“December 2016.
Results: The survey was emailed successfully to 1110 addressees, whereas a total of 205 questionnaires were eligible for analysis (response rate 18.4%). 55 (26.8%) of the respondents had an additional qualification in palliative care. Physicians who had an additional qualification in palliative care (PC qualification) reported palliative care needs for their patients more frequently than the other respondents (89.0 vs. 82.7%, p = 0.008). Furthermore, they were most likely to report a high confidence in palliative care competences, such as â€œcommunication skills & support for relativesâ€ (83.6 vs. 59.3%, p = 0.013), â€œsymptom control,â€ and â€œpain managementâ€ (94.5 vs. 67.7%, p < 0.001 and 90.9 vs. 73.3%, p = 0.008, respectively). Respondents with a PC qualification more often involved palliative care specialists than the other respondents (63.3 vs. 39.3%, p = 0.007). Perceived main barriers regarding palliative care in radiation oncology included time aspects (9.2%), stigmata (8.5%), and the lack of interdisciplinary collaboration (8.5%).
Conclusions: This analysis demonstrated that aspects of palliative care strongly impact on daily practice in radiation oncology. Additional qualifications and comprehensive training in palliative medicine may contribute to improved patient care in radiation oncology.
The first German interdisciplinary S3-guideline on the diagnosis, therapy and follow-up of patients with endometrial cancer was published in April 2018. Funded by German Cancer Aid as part of an Oncology Guidelines Program, the lead coordinators of the guideline were the German Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG) and the Gynecological Oncology Working Group (AGO) of the German Cancer Society (DKG).
Purpose: Using evidence-based, risk-adapted therapy to treat low-risk women with endometrial cancer avoids unnecessarily radical surgery and non-useful adjuvant radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. This can significantly reduce therapy-induced morbidity and improve the patient's quality of life as well as avoiding unnecessary costs. For women with endometrial cancer and a high risk of recurrence, the guideline defines the optimal extent of surgical radicality together with the appropriate chemotherapy and/or adjuvant radiotherapy if required. An evidence-based optimal use of different therapeutic modalities should improve the survival rates and quality of life of these patients. This S3-guideline on endometrial cancer is intended as a basis for certified gynecological cancer centers. The aim is that the quality indicators established in this guideline will be incorporated in the certification processes of these centers.
Methods: The guideline was compiled in accordance with the requirements for S3-level guidelines. This includes, in the first instance, the adaptation of source guidelines selected using the DELBI instrument for appraising guidelines. Other consulted sources included reviews of evidence, which were compiled from literature selected during systematic searches of literature databases using the PICO scheme. In addition, an external biostatistics institute was commissioned to carry out a systematic search and assessment of the literature for one part of the guideline. Identified materials were used by the interdisciplinary working groups to develop suggestions for Recommendations and Statements, which were then subsequently modified during structured consensus conferences and/or additionally amended online using the DELPHI method, with consent between members achieved online. The guideline report is freely available online.
Recommendations: Part 2 of this short version of the guideline presents recommendations for the therapy of endometrial cancer including precancers and early endometrial cancer as well as recommendations on palliative medicine, psycho-oncology, rehabilitation, patient information and healthcare facilities to treat endometrial cancer. The management of precancers of early endometrial precancerous conditions including fertility-preserving strategies is presented. The concept used for surgical primary therapy of endometrial cancer is described. Radiotherapy and adjuvant medical therapy to treat endometrial cancer and uterine carcinosarcomas are described. Recommendations are given for the follow-up care of endometrial cancer, recurrence and metastasis. Palliative medicine, psycho-oncology including psychosocial care, and patient information and rehabilitation are presented. Finally, the care algorithm and quality assurance steps for the diagnosis, therapy and follow-up of patients with endometrial cancer are outlined.
AIM: Children and adolescents with end stage renal disease face a high morbidity and mortality. Palliative care provides a multidisciplinary approach to reduce disease burden and improve quality of life. This study evaluated concepts and current structures of palliative care from the perspective of a multidisciplinary paediatric nephrology team including physicians, nurses and psychosocial health professionals.
METHODS: Evaluation was done by an online survey sent to the members of the German Society of Nephrology and to the nurse managers of German paediatric dialysis centres between April 9th 2018 and May 31th 2018.
RESULTS: Out of the 52 respondents, 54% were physicians, 21% nurses and 25% psychosocial health professionals. The quality of actual palliative care service was rated as moderate (3.3 on a scale from one to six). Specialised palliative care teams (54%) and the caring paediatric nephrologist (50%) were considered as primarily responsible for palliative care. Two-thirds wished for training in palliative care. In only 15% of the respondents' centres, palliative care specialisation existed.
CONCLUSION: Palliative care structures in paediatric nephrology were not sufficient in the view of the multidisciplinary healthcare team. Therefore, efforts should be taken to integrate palliative care into the routine treatment of children and adolescents with chronic kidney diseases.
BACKGROUND: In the last years, the structure of Pediatric Palliative Care in Germany has developed more and more. Since 2007, there is a legal claim for a specialized palliative care in German which also applies to children. Therefore, the need of an advance care planning for children is frequently discussed. In Germany, a written advance is judicially approved only when the person concerned is of full age, intentions to change this legal ground are going on. Nevertheless in many institutions involved in pediatric palliative care standard forms similar to an advance patient directive are used, especially since 2009 when a Do-Not-Resuscitate-Order (DNR-Order) equivalent for children was published on which many German pediatric medical societies had agreed.
METHODS: To get an overview which DNR-Order equivalents are actually used in pediatric palliative care in Germany we sent a questionnaire with 10 items to 174 institutions that are involved in pediatric oncological palliative care between August 2012 and October 2013.
RESULTS: Only 46.9% of replying institutions used the DNR-Order equivalent for children approved by many German pediatric societies. When asked for optimizing such an advance patient directive for minors it was mostly suggested to include always a protocol of the consenting talk, an individualized treatment algorithm of all therapeutic options (not only emergency measures) in the palliative setting, and a more detailed information about the patient's current palliative situation.
CONCLUSIONS: All collected data were summarized within a suggestion for a new advance pediatric oncological care planning standard form for minors in Germany.
Background: About one quarter of children affected with cancer die. For children and their families, the end-of-life period is highly distressing.
Aim: This study focused on how end-of-life care in pediatric cancer patients changed over a period of 10 years and if changes in pediatric palliative care structures were associated with quality of care.
Design: Over a 10-year period, all pediatric oncology departments in one German federal state were invited to participate in a repeated cross-sectional cohort study at three time-points (2005, 2010, 2015). Departments invited parents whose children died due to cancer 5 years earlier to participate. Identical semi-structured interviews were conducted with each cohort by the Survey of Caring for Children with Cancer. In addition, departments provided information on their pediatric palliative care infrastructure.
Participants: In total, 124 families participated; 73% of interviews were conducted with mothers, 18% with fathers, and 9% with both parents.
Results: Parentsâ€™ perception of symptom occurrence, symptom burden, and effectiveness of symptom-related treatment remained stable over the 10-year period. Over time, the availability of pediatric palliative care (p < 0.001) as well as quality and satisfaction ratings of care (p < 0.001) increased significantly. A growing number of children received specialized pediatric palliative care at home during the end-of-life period (p = 0.009). Along with this development, more families had the chance to plan the location of death (p = 0.003), and more children died at the preferred location (p = 0.001).
Conclusion: Advances in the availability of pediatric palliative care were associated with improvement in some aspects of quality of care (e.g. location of death) while other aspects, such as effectiveness of symptom management, remained unchanged. Further research is required to determine whether additional improvement in structural quality may increase the effectiveness of symptom management.
General well-being is known to deteriorate sharply at the end of life. However, it is an open question how rates of terminal change differ across affective and evaluative facets of well-being and if individual difference correlates operate in facet-specific ways. We examined how discrete affective states (happy, angry, fearful, sad) and satisfaction with key life domains (health, leisure, family) change as people approach death and how differences in end-of-life trajectories are related to sociodemographic (age, gender, education), physical health (disability, body mass index, physician visits), and psychosocial characteristics (perceived control, social orientation, living with a partner). We applied growth models to 9-year annual longitudinal data of 864 participants (age at death: M = 75 years, 41% women) from the nationwide German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). Findings revealed commonalities and specificities in terminal change: Six of seven facets became increasingly fragile late in life (6 to 35 times steeper terminal change than age change), but at vastly different rates of change (e.g., steep declines in happiness and satisfaction with health vs. stability in anger) and at different levels at which changes occurred. Commonalities and differences also emerged for the correlates: Those who perceived more control over their lives experienced generally more favorable late-life affect and satisfaction trajectories, whereas other correlates operated in more facet-specific ways. For example, participants living with a partner were happier and more satisfied with family life throughout their last years, but also reported more fear and steeper increases in sadness, a picture of bittersweet emotions at the end of life.