Given the need for organs, public organizations use social marketing strategies to increase the number of donors. Their campaigns employ a variety of moral appeals. However, their effects on audiences are unclear. We identified 14 campaigns in Germany from over the last 20 years. Our approach combined a multimodal analysis of categorized posters with a qualitative analysis of responses, collected in interviews or focus groups, of 53 persons who were either skeptical or undecided about organ donation. The combined analyses revealed that the posters failed to motivate laypersons in general to donate, and were even less effective on skeptical or undecided individuals. We explain this in terms of the types of moral messages found on posters and the limits of such social marketing strategies. Furthermore, we discuss certain ethical aspects of organ donation campaigns pertaining to communicating norms and trust in public institutions.
Background: The aim of this study was to analyse the buffering effect of individual, social and organisational resources on health and intention to leave the profession in the context of burden due to quantitative job demands.
Methods: In 2017, a cross-sectional survey was carried out anonymously among nurses in palliative care in Germany. One thousand three hundred sixteen nurses responded to the questionnaire (response rate 38.7%), which contained, amongst others, questions from the German version of the Copenhagen Psychosocial Questionnaire (COPSOQ). Moderator analyses were conducted to investigate the buffering effect of different resources on health (‘self-rated health’ and ‘burnout’) and ‘intention to leave’ in the context of quantitative demands.
Results: ‘Self-rated health’ was significantly buffered by the resources ‘recognition through salary’ (p = 0.001) and ‘good working team’ (p = 0.004). Additionally, buffering effects of the resources ‘workplace commitment’ and ‘good working team’ on ‘burnout’ (p = 0.001 and p = 0.006, respectively) as well as of the resources ‘degree of freedom’, ‘meeting relatives after death of patients’, ‘recognition from supervisor’ and ‘possibilities for development’ on ‘intention to leave’ (p = 0.014, p = 0.012, p = 0.007 and p = 0.036, respectively) were observed.
Conclusions: The results of our study can be used to develop and implement job (re) design interventions with the goal of reducing the risk of burnout and enhancing job satisfaction among nurses in palliative care. This includes for example adequate payment, communication training and team activities or team events to strengthen the team as well as the implementation of some rituals (such as meeting relatives after the death of patients). As our study was exploratory, the results should be confirmed in further studies.
Pain is a common symptom leading to referrals to specialized home palliative care (SHPC) services and is known to affect patients’ quality of life. To date, little is known about the impact of referral source on its management. To assess changes to pain medication profile in the course of SHPC and to identify potential differences in relation to referral source. This exploratory study is a retrospective analysis of 501 electronic medical records of a SHPC team in Germany. This included the assessment of baseline pain medication profiles according to the WHO analgesic ladder and changes to analgesic treatment in the course of SHPC with respect to referral source. At the time of admission, 77.4% of patients referred by a hospital and 78.8% of patients referred by the outpatient sector received a fixed analgesic regimen. In all, 61.9% of the inpatient group versus 62.9% of the outpatient group were treated with opioids, and 79.0% received modifications to pain medication at one point in time following admission. Thereby, patients referred by the outpatient sector received significantly earlier modifications and more supplementations of pain medication. Our study suggests positive development in the prescription of opioid analgesics compared to earlier studies in Germany. On the one hand, it highlights the relevance of thorough assessment and responsive evaluation of pain in SHPC, and on the other hand it reveals possible training needs of referring physicians, particularly those working in the outpatient sector. Our results inspired further research examining more closely the links between referral source and pain management.
In the partnership between the medical departments of Würzburg University, Germany, and Nagasaki University, Japan, palliative care is a relevant topic. The aim of the study was to perform a comparative analysis of the hospital-based palliative care teams in Würzburg (PCT-W) and Nagasaki (PCT-N). Survey of staff composition and retrospective analysis of PCT patient charts in both PCTs were conducted. Patients self-assessed their symptoms in PCT-W and in Radiation Oncology Würzburg (RO-W). The (negative) quality indicator 'percentage of deceased hospitalised patients with PCT contact for less than 3 days before death' (Earle in Int J Qual Health Care 17(6):505-509, 2005) was analysed. Both PCTs follow a multidisciplinary team approach. PCT-N saw 410 cancer patients versus 853 patients for PCT-W (22.8% non-cancer patients). The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Performance Status at first contact with PCT-N was 3 or 4 in 39.3% of patients versus 79.0% for PCT-W. PCT-N was engaged in co-management longer than PCT-W (mean 20.7 days, range 1-102 versus mean 4.9 days, range 1-48). The most frequent patient-reported psychological symptom was anxiety (family anxiety: 98.3% PCT-W and 88.7% RO-W, anxiety 97.9% PCT-W and 85.9% RO-W), followed by depression (98.2% PCT-W and 80.3% RO-W). In 14 of the 148 deceased patients, PCT-N contact was initiated less than 3 days before death (9.4%) versus 121 of the 729 deceased PCT-W patients (16.6%). Psychological needs are highly relevant in both Germany and Japan, with more than 85% anxiety and depression in patients in the Japanese IPOS validation study (Sakurai in Jpn J Clin Oncol 49(3):257-262, 2019). This should be taken into account when implementing PCTs.
BACKGROUND: Early integration of palliative care concurrently to standard cancer care is associated with several benefits for patients and their caregivers. However, communication barriers on part of the caring physicians often impede a timely referral to palliative care. This study describes the protocol of the evaluation of a communication skills training aiming to strengthen the ability of physicians to address palliative care related topics adequately and early during disease trajectory.
METHODS: We will implement a communication skills training and evaluate it within a prospective, multi-centered, two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), which will be conducted at four sites in Germany. Eligible subjects are all physicians treating patients with advanced cancer in their daily routine. An intervention group (IG) receiving a group training will be compared to a wait-list control group (CG) receiving the training after completion of data collection. At pre- and post-measurement points, participants will conduct videotaped conversations with standardized simulated patients (SP). Primary outcome will be the external rating of communication skills and consulting competencies addressing palliative care related topics. Secondary outcomes on core concepts of palliative care, basic knowledge, attitudes, confidence and self-efficacy will be assessed by standardized questionnaires and self-developed items. A further external assessment of the quality of physician-patient-interaction will be conducted by the SP. Longitudinal quantitative data will be analyzed using covariate-adjusted linear mixed-models.
DISCUSSION: If the communication skills training proves to be effective, it will provide a feasible intervention to promote an earlier communication of palliative care related topics in the care of advanced cancer patients. This would help to further establish early integration of palliative care as it is recommended by national and international guidelines.
BACKGROUND: The working group for palliative medicine within the Comprehensive Cancer Center (CCC) network funded by the German Cancer Aid in Germany has developed and published 14 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for palliative care in CCCs. This study analyzed to what extent these SOPs have been implemented in the clinical routine in the CCC network one year after their publication.
METHODS: An online-based survey on the implementation status, limitations in daily practice and further themes was conducted between April and July 2018. In total, 125 health professionals in specialized palliative care from all 16 CCC locations were invited to participate. The data were analyzed descriptively using SPSS.
RESULTS: The response rate was 52.8%. More than half of the respondents (57.6%) knew about the free availability of SOPs on the CCC network website. The extent to which each SOP was being used actively in practice by the survey respondents ranged from a low of 22.7% (for the "Fatigue" SOP) to a highest of 48.5% (for the "Palliative Sedation" and "Respiratory Distress" SOPs). The respondents became aware of the SOP through recommendations from colleagues, team meetings or from the head of the department. The SOPs "Respiratory distress of an adult palliative patient" and "Palliative sedation" were perceived as the most practically oriented and understandable. Barriers to use SOPs were mainly limited time resources and lack of knowledge of existence and availability.
CONCLUSIONS: In practice, better knowledge about the SOPs and at the same time increased use can be achieved through systematic training or discussion of SOPs in regular team meetings. There is a need to take measures to optimize the implementation in clinical practice.
BACKGROUND: General practitioners (GPs) are important providers and coordinators of palliative home care (PHC). Through this double role, their perspectives and their treatment decisions influence PHC fundamentally. This study aims to gain deeper insights into GPs' perspectives regarding PHC in North Rhine, Germany.
METHODS: An explorative, semistructured focus group was conducted with 7 doctors. The researchers performed content analysis. Main topics were GPs' role definition in PHC and GPs' medical activities in PHC.
RESULTS: Participating GPs describe their role in PHC, based on high motivation and positive attitudes toward PHC as a hybrid role: coordinator, provider (mostly in general PHC), and referrer (gateway to palliative care [PC] specialists). According to GPs' medical activity, participants describe moderate expertise, demanding tasks, and elaborate PHC provision for GPs. Participants stressed the importance of PC in GPs' work. But also PC is a small field in general practice. GPs' PHC benefits from the deep trust resulting from the often close and long-term GP-patient relationship. Complexity and bureaucracy of PHC structures as well as the lack of resources and multidisciplinary cooperation are named as barriers for providing PHC. The highest level of care is reached in specialized PHC, which only very few, severely impaired patients need.
CONCLUSIONS: Participating GPs see themselves as important PHC providers as well as referrers and coordinators. Complexity and discontinuity in PC arrangements create challenges for their provision. Therefore, they long for reduced bureaucratic burdens.
Background: Providing end of life care (EoLC) is an important aspect of primary care, which reduces the risk of hospital admission for most patients. However, general practitioners (GPs) seem to have low confidence in their ability to provide EoLC. Little is known about an adequate volume and kind of training in EoLC among GP trainees.
Methods: We performed a before-after comparison in all post-graduate GP trainees who were registered in the vocational training program (KWBW VerbundweiterbildungPLUS). They were offered participation within a two-day seminar focussing on palliative care in 2017. Those who attended the seminar (intervention group I) completed a paper-based questionnaire directly before the intervention (T1) and 6 months after (T2). None-attendees (group C) were also asked to fill out the questionnaire once. The questionnaire covered previous experiences in palliative care, self-assessment of competencies in EoLC in the organisation of patient care as well as in control of symptoms, attitudes towards death and caring for dying patients and questions about GPs’ role in EoLC.
Results: In total, 294 GP trainees (I: n = 219; C: n = 75) participated in the study. Of those, more than 90% had previously gained experience in EoLC mainly during vocational training in the hospital rotation. Around a third had previously gained competencies in EoLC in medical school. Between groups I (T1) and C no significant differences were observed in socio-demographic characteristics, pre-existing experience or overall expertise. At T2, 75% of participants of group I declared they have extended their competencies in EoLC after the intervention and 70% classified the intervention as helpful or very helpful. Overall, they rated their competencies significantly higher than at T1 (p < 0.01). In detail, competencies in organisation of EoLC and competencies in handling of symptoms significantly improved (p < 0.01). Due to the intervention, 66% could reflect their attitudes towards dying, death and grief and 18% changed their attitudes. Group I highlighted palliative care as one of GPs tasks (Likert 4.47/5, SD 0.75).
Conclusions: The intervention fostered personal competencies, understanding and self-confidence in EoLC among GP trainees. This is crucial for the aim to broadly provide EoLC.
Purpose: We studied the prevalence of medications of questionable benefit in the last 6 months of life among older nursing home residents with and without dementia in Germany.
Methods: a retrospective cohort study was conducted on claims data from 67,328 deceased nursing home residents aged 65+ years who were admitted between 2010 and 2014. We analyzed prescription regimens of medications of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day period and the 90-day period prior to death for residents with dementia (n = 29,052) and without dementia (n = 38,276). Factors associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death were analyzed using logistic regression models among all nursing home residents and stratified by dementia.
Results: A higher proportion of nursing home residents with dementia were prescribed at least one medication of questionable benefit in the 180–91-day (29.6%) and 90-day (26.8%) periods prior to death, compared with residents without dementia (180–91 days, 22.8%; 90 days, 20.1%). Lipid-lowering agents were the most commonly prescribed medications. New prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit were more common among residents with dementia (9.8% vs. 8.7%). When excluding anti-dementia medication, new prescriptions of these medications were more common among residents without dementia (6.4% vs. 8.0%). The presence of dementia (odds ratio [OR] 1.40, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 1.32–1.48) and excessive polypharmacy were associated with new prescriptions of medications of questionable benefit prior to death (OR 4.74, 95%CI 4.15–5.42).
Conclusion: even when accounting for anti-dementia prescriptions, the prevalence of nursing home residents with dementia receiving medications of questionable benefit is considerable and may require further attention.
On 26 February 2020, the German Constitutional Court rejected a law from 2015 that prohibited any form of ‘business-like’ assisted suicide as unconstitutional. The landmark ruling of the highest federal court emphasised the high priority given to the rights of autonomy and free personal development, both of which constitute the principle of human dignity, the first principle of the German constitution. The ruling echoes particularities of post-war Germany’s end-of-life debate focusing on patient self-determination while rejecting any discussion of active assistance to die through a lethal injection administered by a doctor. This brief report discusses the ruling in the light of the broader sociopolitical and historical context of the German end-of-life debate.
Background: In order to counteract fatigue, physical activity (PA) is recommended for all stages of cancer. However, only few advanced cancer patients (ACP) are physically active. Quantitative data with high numbers of ACP reporting barriers to PA are missing. This study aimed to identify barriers to PA in ACP with tiredness/weakness and investigate their motivation towards it.
Methods: Outpatients with metastatic cancer receiving cancer care at a German Cancer Center reporting moderate/severe tiredness/weakness during self-assessment (MIDOS II) were enrolled. We assessed Fatigue-(FACF-F) and Depression (PHQ8) Scores, demographics, cancer-specific parameters, motivation for PA, physical, psychological and social barriers.
Results: 141 of 440 eligible patients (32.0%) with different diagnoses agreed to participate. Patients frequently reported “I feel weakened due to my tumor therapy” (n = 108; 76.6%), physical symptoms (tiredness, weakness, dyspnea, joint-problems, pain, nausea [n = 107; 75.9%]) and fatigue (n = 99; 70.2%) as barriers to PA. However, no significant group differences regarding these barriers were found between physically active and inactive patients. Social barriers were rarely chosen. Motivated patients were 5.6 times more likely to be physically active (p < 0.001), also motivation turned out to be the strongest predictor for a physically active behavior (ß = 1.044; p = 0.005). Motivated attitude towards PA was predicted by fatigue (ß = - 2.301; p = 0.008), clinically relevant depression (ß = - 1.390, p = 0.039), knowledge about PA and quality of life (QoL) (ß = 0.929; p = 0.002), PA before diagnosis (ß = 0.688; p = 0.005 and Interest in exercise program (ß = 0.635; p = 0.008).
Conclusion: “I feel weakened due to my tumor therapy” is the most reported barrier to PA among both, physically and inactive patients. Motivation for PA is the strongest predictor of performing PA. Interest in PA, knowledge about PA/QoL and PA before diagnosis are main predictors of a motivated attitude. Absence/presence of social barriers did not associate with motivation, fatigue and depression proved to be a negative predictor. Programs including information, motivational counseling and individualized training should be offered for ACP to overcome barriers and reduce fatigue.
Trial registration: German Register of Clinical Trials DRKS00012514, registration date: 30.5.2017.
Objectives: Patients in oncological and palliative care (PC) often have complex needs, which require a comprehensive treatment approach. The assessment of patient-reported outcomes (PROs) has been shown to improve identification of patient needs and foster adjustment of treatment. This study explores occupational routines, attitudes and expectations of physicians and nurses with regards to a planned electronic assessment system of PROs.
Methods: ten physicians and nine nurses from various PC settings in Southern Germany were interviewed. The interviews were analysed with qualitative content analysis.
Results: The interviewees were sceptical about the quality of data generated through a patient self-assessment system. They criticised the rigidity of the electronic assessment questionnaire, which the interviewees noted may not fit the profile of all palliative patients. They feared the loss of personal contact between medical staff and patients and favoured in-person conversation and on-site observations on site over the potential system. Interviewees saw potential in being able to discover unseen needs from some patients. Interviewees evaluated the system positively in the case that the system served to broadly orient care plans without affecting or reducing the patient-caregiver relationship.
Conclusions: A significant portion of the results touch upon the symbolic acceptance of the suggested system, which stands for an increasing standardisation and technisation of medicine where interpersonal contact and the professional expertise are marginalized. The study results can provide insight for processes and communication in the run-up to and during the implementation of electronic assessment systems.
Whenever parents lose their child, it is an enormously emotionally stressful situation for the family, regardless of whether the child is a stillborn or dies later in life. The earlier this painful loss occurs, the more precious becomes every opportunity for the family to spend with their child, providing care as well as saying goodbye.
[Début de l'article]
Background. Modern intensive care methods led to an increased survival of critically ill patients over the last decades. But an unreflected application of modern intensive care measures might lead to prolonged treatment for incurable diseases, and an inadaequate or too aggressive therapy can prolong the dying process of patients. In this study, we analysed end-of-life decisions regarding withholding and withdrawal of intensive care measures in a German intensive care unit (ICU) of a communal tertiary hospital.
Methods. Patient datasets of all adult patients dying in an ICU or an intermediate care unit (IMC) in a tertiary communal hospital (Klinikum Hanau, Germany) between 01.01.2011 and 31.12.2012 were analysed for withholding and withdrawal of intensive care measures.
Results. During the two-year period, 1317 adult patients died in Klinikum Hanau. Of these, 489 (37%) died either in an ICU/IMC unit. The majority of those deceased patients (n = 427, 87%) was 60 years or older. In 306 (62%) of 489 patients, at least one life-sustaining measure was withheld or withdrawn. In 297 (61%) of 489 patients dying in ICU/IMC, any type of therapy was withheld, and in 139 patients (28%), any type of therapy was withdrawn. Mostly, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (n = 222), invasive (n = 121) and noninvasive (n = 40) ventilation followed by renal replacement therapy (n = 71) and catecholamine therapy (n = 66) were withheld. More invasive measures as ventilation or renal replacement therapy were withdrawn in 18 and 22 patients only. After withholding/withdrawal of therapy, most patients died within two days. More than 20% of patients dying in ICU/IMC did not have an analgesic medication.
Conclusions. About one-third of patients dying in the hospital died in ICU/IMC. At least one life-sustaining therapy was limited/withdrawn in more than 60% of those patients. Withholding of a therapy was more common than active therapy withdrawal. Ventilation and renal replacement therapy were withdrawn in less than 5% of patients, respectively.
OBJECTIVES: We investigated trends in end-of-life hospitalizations among nursing home residents (NHR) over 10 years and looked at differences between age groups and sexes as well as the length of terminal hospital stays.
STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study based on health insurance claims data of the AOK Bremen/Bremerhaven. All NHR aged 65 years or more who died between 2006 and 2015 were included.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We assessed the proportions of decedents who were in hospital on the day of death and during the last 3, 7, 14 and 30 days of life, stratified by two-year periods. Multiple logistic regressions were conducted to study changes over time, adjusting for covariates.
RESULTS: A total of 10,781 decedents were included (mean age 86.1 years, 72.1 % females). Overall, 29.2 % died in hospital, with a slight decrease from 30.3 % in 2006-2007 to 28.3 % in 2014-2015 (OR 0.86; 95 % CI 0.75-0.98). Of the 3150 terminal hospitalizations, 35.5 % lasted up to 3 days and the mean length of stay decreased from 9.0 (2006-2007) to 7.5 days (2014-2015). When looking at the last 7, 14 and 30 days of life, no changes over time were found. Male sex and younger age were associated with a higher chance of end-of-life hospitalization in almost all analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: End-of-life hospitalizations of NHR are common in Germany. There has been a small decrease during recent years in the proportion of in-hospital deaths, but not of hospitalizations during the last 7, 14 and 30 days of life. This might be explained by shorter durations of hospital stays.
This article discusses a recent ruling by the German Federal Court concerning medical professional liability due to potentially unlawful clinically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) at the end of life. This case raises important ethical and legal questions regarding a third person's right to judge the value of another person's life and the concept of 'wrongful life'. In our brief report, we discuss the concepts of the 'value of life' and wrongful life, which were evoked by the court, and how these concepts apply to the present case. We examine whether and to what extent value-of-life judgements can be avoided in medical decision-making. The wrongful-life concept is crucial to the understanding of this case. It deals with the question whether life, even when suffering is involved, could ever be worse than death. The effects of this ruling on medical and legal practice in Germany are to be seen. It seems likely that it will discourage claims for compensation following life-sustaining treatment (LST). However, it is unclear to what extent physicians' decisions will be affected, especially those concerning withdrawal of CANH. We conclude that there is a risk that LST may come to be seen as the 'safe' option for the physician, and hence, as always appropriate.
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Critically ill patients require a careful approach for prognosis and decision-making. The German health legislation aims to strengthen the role of advance directives (ADs) and health-care proxies (HCPs). Their impact within a dedicated neurocritical care setting is unknown. This study aimed to assess the practice of withdrawal or withholding of life-sustaining therapy (WOLST) in a German neurointensive care unit (NICU) focusing on whether AD or HCP is associated with timing and treatment intensity.
METHODS: Data on patients who died after WOLST at a dedicated NICU of a German university hospital, from 2010 to 2013, were retrospectively analyzed.
RESULTS: Of 400 deceased patients, 310 (77.5%) died after initiation of WOLST. Among them, 68 (21.9%) were identified to have AD or HCP or both (AD + HCP). WOLST patients with AD, HCP, or AD + HCP were older than those without (median age: 77 vs 72 years, P < .001) but did not show any other distinct baseline features. There was no difference in the specific neurocritical care measures between the groups. Poisson regression analysis showed no significant difference in the probability of time-dependent WOLST initiation between those with and without AD/HCP, after adjusting for age and sex (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.10; 95% confidence interval, 0.94-1.28; P = .244).
CONCLUSIONS: In this single-center study of mainly cerebrovascular NICU patients, AD or HCP was neither associated with an earlier WOLST nor associated with a difference in treatment intensity before WOLST. Further prospective studies should assess the emerging concept of advance care planning in neurocritical care.
A huge proportion of people with Parkinson’s disease (PwP) in Germany have written an advance directive (AD). However, the content of these forms in regard to specific Parkinson’s disease (PD)-related complications is rather low. There is an urgent need to specify ADs of PwP and consequently to improve decision-making concerning end-of-life aspects for affected patients. Evidence- and consensus-based PD-specific recommendations for ADs might help to close this gap. A Delphi study with two online Delphi rounds was initiated. Initial recommendations were built on findings from previous studies and derived from evidence-based literature. Consensus on recommendations was defined as =80% concordance regarding clarity of formulated aspects and relevance for clinical practice. A total of 22 experts (15.2% response rate) predominantly from the workgroup ‘neuro-palliative care’ in Germany performed two Delphi rounds. Consensus was achieved for 14 of 24 initially presented recommendations. Recommendations relating to dopaminergic therapy as well as to non-oral therapy options were considered important by the expert panel. The recommendations should be taken into account when developing and giving advice on ADs for PwP. Health professionals should be trained in counselling ADs of PwP and in integrating these recommendations in ADs during the disease course of PD.
BACKGROUND: Nursing homes are becoming more important for end-of-life care. Within the industrialised world, Germany is among the countries with the most end-of-life hospitalizations in nursing home residents. To improve end-of-life care, investigation in the status quo is required. The objective was to gain a better understanding of the perspectives of nursing home staff on the current situation of end-of-life care in Germany.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted as a postal survey among a random sample of 1069 German nursing homes in 2019. The survey was primarily addressed to nursing staff management. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Staff was asked to rate different items regarding common practices and potential deficits of end-of-life care on a 5-point-Likert-scale. Estimations of the proportions of in-hospital deaths, residents with advance directives (AD), cases in which documented ADs were ignored, and most important measures for improvement of end-of-life care were requested.
RESULTS: 486 (45.5%) questionnaires were returned, mostly by nursing staff managers (64.7%) and nursing home directors (29.9%). 64.4% of the respondents rated end-of-life care rather good, the remainder rated it as rather bad. The prevalence of in-hospital death was estimated by the respondents at 31.5% (SD: 19.9). Approximately a third suggested that residents receive hospital treatments too frequently. Respondents estimated that 45.9% (SD: 21.6) of the residents held ADs and that 28.4% (SD: 26.8) of available ADs are not being considered. Increased staffing, better qualification, closer involvement of general practitioners and better availability of palliative care concepts were the most important measures for improvement.
CONCLUSIONS: Together with higher staffing, better availability and integration of palliative care concepts may well improve end-of-life care. Prerequisite for stronger ties between nursing home and palliative care is high-quality education of those involved in end-of-life care.
AIM: To describe general practitioners' (GPs) perspectives on end-of-life care of nursing home residents.
METHODS: We carried out a cross-sectional study. A questionnaire was sent to a random sample of 1121 GPs in the German federal states of Bremen and Lower Saxony in 2018. Data were compared between GPs with a qualification in palliative medicine and those without such qualifications, and multivariable logistic regression was performed.
RESULTS: Overall, 375 questionnaires were returned (response rate 34%). The majority of GPs (71%) agreed that nursing home residents are treated too often in hospitals at the end of life, and more than half rated end-of-life care in nursing homes as "rather poor" (54%). For both questions, GPs with a qualification in palliative medicine showed higher agreements. In the multivariable analysis, a prior qualification in palliative medicine was also strongly associated with rating end-of-life care as "rather poor" (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.10-3.23). Respondents cited higher staffing ratios and better trained nursing staff as the most important measures to improve end-of-life care. Furthermore, it was estimated that just 37% of residents have an advance directive, with only one-third including valid information on end-of-life hospitalizations.
CONCLUSIONS: This study showed that GPs tend to be critical regarding end-of-life care in nursing homes. To improve end-of-life care, better training in palliative care for nursing staff and GPs might be warranted. In addition, advance care planning can help to ensure that residents' wishes are respected.