Background: Involving adults lacking capacity (ALC) in research on end of life care (EoLC) or serious illness is important, but often omitted. We aimed to develop evidence-based guidance on how best to include individuals with impaired capacity nearing the end of life in research, by identifying the challenges and solutions for processes of consent across the capacity spectrum.
Methods: Methods Of Researching End of Life Care_Capacity (MORECare_C) furthers the MORECare statement on research evaluating EoLC. We used simultaneous methods of systematic review and transparent expert consultation (TEC). The systematic review involved four electronic databases searches. The eligibility criteria identified studies involving adults with serious illness and impaired capacity, and methods for recruitment in research, implementing the research methods, and exploring public attitudes. The TEC involved stakeholder consultation to discuss and generate recommendations, and a Delphi survey and an expert ‘think-tank’ to explore consensus. We narratively synthesised the literature mapping processes of consent with recruitment outcomes, solutions, and challenges. We explored recommendation consensus using descriptive statistics. Synthesis of all the findings informed the guidance statement.
Results: Of the 5539 articles identified, 91 met eligibility. The studies encompassed people with dementia (27%) and in palliative care (18%). Seventy-five percent used observational designs. Studies on research methods (37 studies) focused on processes of proxy decision-making, advance consent, and deferred consent. Studies implementing research methods (30 studies) demonstrated the role of family members as both proxy decision-makers and supporting decision-making for the person with impaired capacity. The TEC involved 43 participants who generated 29 recommendations, with consensus that indicated. Key areas were the timeliness of the consent process and maximising an individual’s decisional capacity. The think-tank (n = 19) refined equivocal recommendations including supporting proxy decision-makers, training practitioners, and incorporating legislative frameworks.
Conclusions: The MORECare_C statement details 20 solutions to recruit ALC nearing the EoL in research. The statement provides much needed guidance to enrol individuals with serious illness in research. Key is involving family members early and designing study procedures to accommodate variable and changeable levels of capacity. The statement demonstrates the ethical imperative and processes of recruiting adults across the capacity spectrum in varying populations and settings.
OBJECTIVES: Nursing homes (NHs) are critical end-of-life (EOL) care settings for 70% of Americans dying with Alzheimer's disease/related dementias (ADRD). Whether EOL care/outcomes vary by NH/market characteristics for this population is unknown but essential information for improving NH EOL care/outcomes. Our objectives were to examine variations in EOL care/outcomes among decedents with ADRD and identify associations with NH/market characteristics.
OUTCOMES: Place-of-death (hospital/NH), presence of pressure ulcers, potentially avoidable hospitalizations (PAHs), and hospice use at EOL. Key covariates were ownership, staffing, presence of Alzheimer's units, and market competition.
SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Long-stay NH residents with ADRD, age 65 + years of age, who died in 2017 (N = 191,435; 14,618 NHs) in NHs or hospitals shortly after NH discharge.
METHODS: National Medicare claims, Minimum Data Set, public datasets. Descriptive analyses and multivariable logistic regressions.
RESULTS: As ADRD severity increased, adjusted rates of in-hospital deaths and PAHs decreased (17.0% to 6.3%; 11.2% to 7.0%); adjusted rates of dying with pressure ulcers and hospice use increased (8.2% to 13.5%; 24.5% to 40.7%). Decedents with moderate and severe ADRD had 16% and 13% higher likelihoods of in-hospital deaths in for-profit NHs. In NHs with Alzheimer's units, likelihoods of in-hospital deaths, dying with pressure ulcers, and PAHs were significantly lower. As ADRD severity increased, higher licensed nurse staffing was associated with 14%-27% lower likelihoods of PAHs. Increased NH market competition was associated with higher likelihood of hospice use, and lower likelihood of in-hospital deaths among decedents with moderate ADRD.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Decedents with ADRD in NHs that were nonprofit, had Alzheimer's units, higher licensed nurse staffing, and in more competitive markets, had better EOL care/outcomes. Modifications to state Medicaid NH payments may promote better EOL care/outcomes for this population. Future research to understand NH care practices associated with presence of Alzheimer's units is warranted to identify mechanisms possibly promoting higher-quality EOL care.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study is to elucidate the attitudes and knowledge of nursing home (NH) staff involved in the decision-making process surrounding tube feeding for people with advanced dementia, and regarding palliative care and eating difficulties in this population.
BACKGROUND: Dementia's final stage is associated with eating difficulties. "Comfort feeding" is the approach endorsed by the American Geriatrics society for those with advanced dementia and eating difficulties. Despite this, tube feeding remains a persisting practice in NHs in Israel.
DESIGN: Qualitative descriptive study.
METHODS: 27 NH employees from different sectors employed by seven NHs in Northern Israel underwent semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. The COREQ checklist was used to aid with reporting and analysis of results.
RESULTS: In Israel, there is an emerging palliative care discourse in caring for people with advanced dementia living in the NH setting. However, many interviewed didn't demonstrate an accurate understanding of this term or of the term "comfort feeding". Several barriers toward implementation of palliative care were identified and include a lack of formal education regarding nutrition in advanced dementia, socio-economic factors and their association with the two types of NHs operating in Israel (those with exclusively private funding, and those reimbursed by the Ministry of Health).
CONCLUSIONS: Interviews with NH staff regarding eating difficulties in advanced dementia shed light on the palliative care discourse, which is in a liminal stage in many countries. The themes which emerged may help inform future recommendations regarding palliative care in general and more specifically in NH residents with advanced dementia, in countries where policy is still being developed and refined.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Understanding barriers toward implementation of a palliative approach and comfort feeding specifically could improve the care for people with advanced dementia in the NH setting.
BACKGROUND: Decision-making in end-stage dementia (ESD) is a complex process involving medical, social, legal and ethical issues. In ESD, the person suffers from severe cognitive problems leading to a loss of capacity to decide matters regarding health and end-of-life issues. The decisional responsibility is usually passed to clinicians and relatives who can face significant difficulty in making moral decisions, particularly in the presence of life-threatening swallowing problems.
AIM: This study aimed to understand the decision-making processes of clinical teams and relatives in addressing life-threatening swallowing difficulties in ESD in long-term care in Malta.
METHOD: The study followed a qualitative approach where six case studies, involving six different teams and relatives of six different patients, were interviewed retrospectively to understand their decision-making in connection with the management of swallowing difficulties in ESD. Data were collected through semistructured interviews with each stakeholder. All data were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis.
RESULTS: Four themes were identified: the vulnerability of patients in dementia decision-making; the difficult role of relatives in decision-making; the decisional conflict between aggressive care through tube feeding versus oral comfort feeding; a consensus-building decision-making process as ideal to facilitate agreement and respect for patient's dignity.
CONCLUSION: Decision-making to manage swallowing difficulties in ESD is a challenging process, which involves an interpretation of personal values, beliefs, patient preferences, care needs and clinical practice. Better communication between clinicians and relatives in dementia helps promote agreement between stakeholders leading to a care plan that respects the dignity of patients at their end of life.
Dementia patients in the moderate-late stage of the disease can, and often do, express different preferences than they did at the onset of their condition. The received view in the philosophical literature argues that advance directives which prioritize the patient's preferences at onset ought to be given decisive moral weight in medical decision-making. Clinical practice, on the other hand, favors giving moral weight to the preferences expressed by dementia patients after onset. The purpose of this article is to show that the received view in the philosophical literature is inadequate and is out of touch with real clinical practice. I argue that having dementia is a cognitive transformative experience and that preference changes which result from this are legitimate and ought to be given moral weight in medical decision-making. This argument ought to encourage us to reduce our confidence in the moral weight of advance directives for dementia patients.
BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: Specialty palliative care for hospitalized patients with dementia is widely recommended and may improve outcomes, yet rates of consultation remain low. We sought to describe hospitalists' decision-making regarding palliative care consultation for patients with dementia.
DESIGN: Descriptive qualitative study.
SETTING: Seven hospitals within a national nonprofit health system.
PARTICIPANTS: Hospitalist physicians.
MEASUREMENTS: Individual semistructured interviews. We used thematic analysis to explore factors that influence hospitalists' decision to consult palliative care for patients with dementia.
RESULTS: A total of 171 hospitalists were eligible to participate, and 28 (16%) were interviewed; 17 (61%) were male, 16 (57%) were white, and 18 (64%) were in practice less than 10 years. Overall, hospitalists' decisions to consult palliative care for patients with dementia were influenced by multiple factors across four themes: patient, family caregiver, hospitalist, and organization. Consultation was typically only considered for patients with advanced disease, particularly those receiving aggressive care or with family communication needs (navigating conflicts around goals of care and improving disease and prognostic understanding). Hospitalists' limited time and, for some, a lack of confidence in palliative care skills were strong drivers of consultation. Palliative care needs notwithstanding, most hospitalists would not request consultation if they perceived families would be resistant to it or had limited availability or involvement in caregiving. Additional barriers to referral at the organization level included a hospital culture that conflated palliative and end-of-life care and busy palliative care teams at some hospitals.
CONCLUSION: Hospitalists described a complex consultation decision process for involving palliative care specialists in the care of patients with dementia. Systematic identification of hospitalized patients with dementia most likely to benefit from palliative care consultation and strategies to overcome modifiable family and organization barriers are needed.
Background: Difficulties in prognostication are common deterrents to palliative care among dementia patients. This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of palliative care in reducing the extent of utilization of medical services and the potential risk factors of mortality among dementia patients receiving palliative care.
Methods: We surveyed dementia patients involved in a palliative care program at a long-term care facility in Taipei, Taiwan. We enrolled 57 patients with advanced dementia (clinical dementia rating = 5 or functional assessment staging test stage 7b). We then compared the extent of their utilization of medical services before and after the provision of palliative care. Based on multivariable logistic regression, we identified potential risk factors before and after the provision of palliative care associated with 6-month mortality.
Results: The utilization of medical services was significantly lower among dementia patients after the provision of palliative care than before, including visits to medical departments (p < 0.001), medications prescribed (p < 0.001), frequency of hospitalization (p < 0.001), and visits to the emergency room (p < 0.001). Moreover, patients dying within 6 months after the palliative care program had a slightly but not significantly higher number of admissions before receiving hospice care (p = 0.058) on univariate analysis. However, no significant differences were observed in multivariate analysis.
Conclusions: The provision of palliative care to dementia patients reduces the extent of utilization of medical services. However, further studies with larger patient cohorts are required to stratify the potential risk factors of mortality in this patient group.
The timing of palliative care initiation may be more appropriately directed using a needs-based approach, instead of a prognostically driven one. Jewish Law or Halachah ("the way") upholds a strong commitment to the sanctity of life and teaches that the duty to prolong life supersedes the duty to end suffering prematurely, unless one is expected to imminently die. This intersection of palliative care and a reliance on prognostic triggers with an individual's observance of religious traditions complicates matters nearing the end-of-life. A recent pilot study by Sternberg et al. of 20 patients with advanced dementia in Israel found that home hospice care significantly reduced distressing symptoms, caregiver burden and hospitalization and teaches us important lessons about some of the essential elements to providing excellent palliative care at home, including the 24/7 availability of healthcare providers outside of the emergency department. In light of specific religious practices, palliative care should strive to incorporate a patient's specific religious observance as part of high-quality end-of-life care.
OBJECTIVE: Advance request euthanasia and/or assisted suicide (AR-EAS) in persons with dementia is highly controversial. Results of typical public opinion surveys may not reflect the ethical and practical issues involved in the practice. We tested the impact of incorporating such issues in the assessment of public attitudes toward legalization of AR-EAS.
DESIGN: Online survey (April 27-30, 2020) of 1,711 adults recruited via CloudResearch PrimePanel, matched to U.S. population in age, sex, race and/or ethnicity, education, household income, and political affiliation. After assessing initial attitudes toward legalization of AR-EAS, respondents viewed one of six randomly assigned scenarios depicting an ethical or practical issue in AR-EAS; acceptability of EAS in each scenario as well as general attitudes toward AR-EAS legalization were then elicited.
RESULTS: Approximately 54.4% initially agreed/strongly agreed with AR-EAS legalization; agreement was associated with lower dementia quality-of-life rating, younger age, not being religious, liberal politics, and $75,000–$99,999 income range. After viewing the scenarios, a minority in each scenario arm found the AR-EAS depicted acceptable (20.7%–39.1%; p<0.0001 for all six arms, in comparison with initial legalization question response). Support (agree/strongly agree) for AR-EAS legalization after reading specific scenarios was generally lower (range 36.5%–49.3%; p=0.0002); change in support for legalization was associated with initial support for legalization, acceptability of AR-EAS in the scenarios, dementia quality-of-life ratings, and race.
CONCLUSION: Informing the public of the ethical and practical complexities in AR-EAS may have significant effects on their attitudes toward legalization. Future surveys should ensure that the public's views reflect sufficient exposure to these complexities.